Entrepreneurial method: believe something is impossible? Enter 'double-think' ~ Sounds + Food 'n' Retail

Yesterday, I read an HBR-article by Roger Martin, on his book "The opposable mind", the ability for people to think contradicting thoughts and act on them at the same time (this may sound familiar, if you've ever read 1984).

My first instinct was to throw it out. I didn't like that he used the first few paragraphs to discredit other thinkers on leadership; and I didn't find his proposed method for coming up with a business-model particularly compatible with the general idea of "chaos" that he was proposing (more on that later). I even wrote an impassioned article about it, but waited a day before publishing it (no April fools from me this year). None of my criticism was directed at his core-concept, btw., I do believe in the ability to think contradicting thoughts, and act on them also.

After a night of sleep, I came to the conclusion that Martin's article was effective. Because it required me to think the article had faulty qualities, while the core-idea was right. And that was the very idea of 'double think'! Then I started thinking, what other areas could you apply this to? Pick one!

  • My perception of the internet is that it's indiscriminately linear—we forget things the day after they are published. So how could you make it less linear?
  • The perception of food is that it doesn't do well in e-commerce—they perish and people value touch. So how can you sell food via the internet?
  • My perception of restaurants is that it requires a genius cook, who is both expensive and hard to handle. So how can you start a restaurant without such an individual, or better yet, how can you start a restaurant with one?
Essentially, 'double think' translates into a belief that the impossible can be made possible; all it requires is faith and homework!

Martin's method for coming up a business-model looks like this:
integrative thinking.jpg
In other words, you need to identify your core-customers, understand that their decision-process is not linear; understand the equally multi-dimensional architecture of your business, industry, and economy; and come out with a product/service that meets these opportunities.

Whether this is the best way to come up with an impossible idea, I'm not sure. But it seems like a logical thing to do after you come up with an idea and are looking to place it within a commercial context.

He uses one example throughout the article, that of Red Hat Linux, which, I completely agree, is one of the best examples to choose. It is free software, but it's a commercial success, which goes against conventional thinking, at least at that time. And instead of just acting as a commodity or becoming proprietary charge-ware, they decided to make a services-company out of it, and a market-leader at that. So how would you turn your open-source product into a commercial success? If that isn't 'double think', I don't know what is.


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