Skip to main content

"Imagination is more important than knowledge... " (Albert Einstein)

Measured over a sentient, professional lifetime,  knowing the HOW of thinking is more critical than knowing the WHAT.  I tell my students that all the time.  And me being me, I plunge even further into the deep end of educational counseling, suggesting that an aspiring leader's electives are better spent learning the HOW - in classes on philosophy, logic and literary criticism, than in slogging through more of the WHAT in accounting theory (an oxymoron...), business law or econometrics.

Why memorize what you can hire? It's not an opinion likely to endear me to business school faculty, but they're frequently part of the problem, not the solution.  The learning and thinking stopped the moment 'Ph.D.' became their last name.

No, successful strategists think like insurgents, NOT like incumbents (see the post below riffing on Seth Godin.)   For that you must learn HOW to think.  

For Lesson #1, turn to "Why Criticism Matters," a fascinating New York Times series about literary criticism's role in a Facebook world.  In critic Katie Roiphe's view,
"The critic could take all of this healthy competition, the challenge of dwindling review pages, the slash in pay, as a sign to be better, to be irreplaceable, to transcend."
You might ask what, exactly, do literary criticism and hospital strategy have in common?  How about if we paraphrased Roiphe like this;
"The hospital could take all of this healthy competition, the challenge of dwindling admissions, the slash in reimbursement, as a sign to be better, to be irreplaceable, to transcend."
Heard any C-Suiters talking "transcendence" at your last strategy session?  I thought not.

Now, literary criticism is not about playing word substitution games.  It IS about surveying the confusing wasteland of ideas and opinions, identifying new trends and voices, being able to find and protect what's important, all while communicating meaning.  Making sense out of confusion.  Constructing a graceful, well-told story.

Ring any bells to you strategists out there?

Roiphe's article quotes Vladimir Nabokov's suggestion that some of his student's ears were "merely ornamental."  Yeah, I know the feeling.   Happens in my business too.

Or this from Pankaj Mishra's essay, here quoting Edmund Wilson;
"“The experience of mankind on the earth is always changing as man develops and has to deal with new combinations of elements; and the writer who is to be anything more than an echo of his predecessors must always find expression for something which has never yet been expressed, must master a new set of phenomena. . . . With each such victory of the human intellect, whether in history, in philosophy or in poetry, we experience a deep satisfaction: we have been cured of some ache of disorder, relieved of some oppressive burden of uncomprehended events.”
Change 'writer' to 'leader' or 'strategist.'  It's LEADERS and STRATEGISTS who should "...find expression for the unexpressed....master new phenomena..."  You know, the stuff you learned in that Advanced Auditing class, right?

By the way, do you know why so many people get lost in thought?  Because it's unfamiliar territory, I'm told.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Becoming Consumer Friendly In Five Easy Steps...Or Not

An article at hhnmag.com offers hospitals 5 steps to becoming more consumer friendly.

If you still think there's a secret sauce to your hospital becoming more "consumer friendly," these 5 steps are as good a place to start as any.  Unfortunately, it's a little like that old Steve Martin comedy bit where he says he'll teach you how to be rich. The first step is to go find a million dollars.

Step 1 from the article is realizing that "...a Medicare beneficiary with chronic conditions is different from a young mom who brings her kids in for an annual check-up." This is market segmentation for beginners, and, yes, one size decidedly does not fit all. I'm sure your marketing team's been saying this for a while.

Steps 2-5: have a strategy, metrics, a champion and resources. OK. Hard to argue with any of those.

But those things, alone or together, won't overcome culture. They're important components to be sure, but insufficient without a …

My Take On Anthem-Cigna, Big Dumb Companies and the Executives Who Run Them

After last Friday's Appeals Court decision, Anthem's hostile takeover of, er, merger with Cigna has but a faint pulse. Good. Unplug the respirator. Cigna's figured it out but Anthem is like that late-late horror show where the corpse refuses to die. Meanwhile, 150 McKinsey consultants are on standby for post-merger "integration" support. I guess "no deal, no paycheck..." is powerfully motivating to keep the patient alive a while longer.

In court, Anthem argued that assembling a $54 billion behemoth is a necessary precondition to sparking all manner of wondrous innovations and delivering $2.4 billion in efficiencies. The basic argument appears to be "We need to double in size to grow a brain. And just imagine all those savings translating directly into lower premiums for employers and consumers." 

Stop. Read that paragraph again. Ignore the dubious "lower premiums" argument and focus on the deal's savings.

$2.4 billion saved from a p…

Another Day, Another App, Another Satisfied Customer

How might health care providers use technology to turn customers' mobile phones into information displays and ordering devices? A few years ago, the NY Times outlined how retailers are doing it...
"(Designer Norma) Kamali is at the forefront of a technological transformation coming to many of the nation’s retailers. They are determined to strengthen the link between their physical stores and the Web, and to use technology to make shopping easier for consumers and more lucrative for themselves.
...

Cisco Systems, the supplier of networking equipment and services for the Internet, is also a leader in the field. The company’s Mobile Concierge system is capable of connecting customers’ smartphones to retailers’ wireless networks — so a shopper could type “Cheez Whiz” into a cellphone, then pinpoint its location in the store." Ms. Kamali's boutique installed a technology called ScanLife, "allowing people to scan bar codes on merchandise and obtain details about the…