Brian Tracy writes about zero-based thinking, asking the question knowing what I now know, is there anything I would do differently?
That is a hard question to think about.
We know what we know. We don’t know how things might have turned out if we had made different choices along the way. We may think they may have turned out better – but doesn’t make today any less real.
Take knowledge, for example. What’s the point of it?
Some people study situations and come up with theories. Others work with real world problems and try to solve them.
A good application of knowledge is when we find a theory that can be applied to solve real world problems.
But things are hardly ever this direct – and that’s because the people involved want different things.
The people who generate knowledge – who sit at their desks and think through ideas and come up with theories – have a system of rewards and incentives based on the respect of their peers.
The people who solve problems have the satisfaction of improving things and knowing that they have created a better situation for others.
Clearly the two are linked – although the connections are not always easy to see.
Keynes wrote “Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back”
There’s another thing that can pass us by – it’s almost invisible.
Why is it that there are so many books on management – on everything really these days?
It’s because one way of standing out is to come up with a new way of doing something – which is usually a new way of packaging an old way of doing something.
In marketing, for example, we always need to spend some time working out who our customers are – who wants what we have more than they want the money in their pocket?
Whether we use segmentation or psychographics or personas, what we’re trying to do is get a better picture of who these customers are – and then we can try and get to know them better.
So, what writers and consultants do is come up with tools – ways of turning knowledge into methods that can be applied to a problem.
This link between the generation of knowledge, creation of tools and application in a problem situation forms a value chain, according to John H.Roberts, Ujwal Kayande and Stefan Stremersch, who found that when it comes to marketing there is a good link between knowledge and practice – the tools are being applied on the whole.
They found that when the people doing the thinking are also doing some doing, it seems to work better.
Once again – it’s obvious.
That doesn’t mean its easy to do or commonly done.
We need to work to get such three such simple concepts aligned and working in practice in our businesses.