Muzeable: a perspective on the world

Muzeable Thinking No.1 from Tim Brooks 19th OCTOBER 2012

This is a brief introduction to Muzeable and Muzeable Thinking. At the core of our approach lies a clear perspective on the world, this, our opening blog, starts to scratch its surface…

A context. All businesses face a relentless search for growth, but two forces are accelerating to make defining a sustainable growth strategy harder than ever:
1. VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity – is a neat summary and a truth we must all live with. To some extent it was ever thus, but it also seems that a combination of environmental factors are driving an incessant increase in the levels of complexity we all face.
2. The need for speed. This is more than the traditional downward pressure within all businesses to get on with it. This is hyper-speed in response to an ever-changing set of circumstances; speed in the face of an ‘un-plannable’ real time world – where testing, learning, doing as it happens is felt to beat a pre-determined ‘longer term’ plan.

These two factors contain a powerful contradiction – in this, the age of contradictions. The complex/BIG DATA world requires deeper, more reflective thinking in order to create robust strategic responses and yet the need for executional speed means that the time to do this is, or can be seen as, a luxury. This creates a challenging dynamic tension – businesses can be stuck in the headlights of an inflexible strategy or lurching incoherently from here to there on a journey of rapid experimentation… or more likely they do a bit of both.

This analysis also increasingly highlights that some of our traditional responses are becoming less effective. So where is the data behind this assertion that we don’t have clear models for growth? Well, simply put, endless sets of company results… so few companies of scale really deliver anything close to sustainable growth. All credible reviews confirm this, but by way of example here is some data I read recently; it highlighted that only c.9% of companies had delivered consistent 5.5% real growth and profitability [earning their cost of capital] in the decade to 2010*. Despite the rhetoric and positive self-publicity of so many businesses and business people the reality is most of us are simply hanging on or actually failing – certainly versus budget because almost none of the remaining 90% were presenting business plans promising this level of performance.

Muzeable was created to work in this challenging environment. There are no easy answers… so we won’t sell you a load of platitudinous blah! Muzeable Thinking is a way of looking at complexity, at categories and at businesses. It aims to help these businesses build clearer paths to growth. So, what’s important?

o That strategy never starts with strategy it always starts with GROWTH and an understanding of how growth works for your business.
o Making sure everything we do is useful, useable and used. Until it is used it’s merely interesting! Too much consultancy works in a bubble that fails to understand ‘how things get done around here’ and therefore fails to get traction beyond the marketing department or the project team.
o Constantly striving to create simplicity out of the complexity – there are no quick fixes and it demands deep reflective thinking
o Squeezing your existing knowledge/world before you look for shiny new things… the answer or its basis is often there already
o Focusing your mind when you reach a point of change – the need for intense, fast, but sustainable [strategic] input is critical. Points of change are when you are:
o Stuck – you or the category
o Losing – when someone is doing it better or differently
o New – when you face a new challenge

We need to build new behaviours for this new age…
o Ditch your rigid planning processes, don’t even pretend you’re in control, never believe anyone who tells you they know what’s going on and realise there is no RTD elixir of growth waiting for you to stumble across it!
o But don’t hide behind the need for speed, it’s not an excuse for endless tactical, ad hoc, incoherence.
o Create the ability to deliver intense, meaningful input at the moments when it really matters versus shooting from the hip because you think speed demands it.
o Work to create what we call a GROWTH FRAMEWORK™, based on the GROWTH MECHANICS™ of your business and category – a simple and flexible logic that defines your future growth. This needs a new, broad and reflective approach and is the basis of a strategy…

Apologies that this is a bit of a sales pitch, but if this outline is of interest… we’d love to talk about your business and the challenges it faces.

* ‘Repeatability: Build Enduring Businesses for a World of Constant Change’ Chris Zook & James Allen. This is a must read book. It is frighteningly aligned with my own thinking, but much more credible!!!

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