Tips for Business Start Ups: get your wishes in a numerical duck line

A cheerful start up entrepreneureuse, Jackie, has recently been constructing her business plan with huge energy, a lot of intelligence and industry savvy. She’s stepping into the world of corporate entertainment and has excelled in such matters for years: feeding her family, tending to the sick and wounded, dealing with work based audits are all transferable skills she will no doubt apply seamlessly to her new business when it hurtles down the run way and takes off – loaded no doubt with enough fuel to get her from here to there without falling out of the sky unlike, allegedly, some modern day budget airlines we could name but won’t for the fear of reprisals around the back of the allotment sheds.

Her business plan is loaded with wishes, desires, hunches and what ifs – and its been a valuable process to help her shape those wishes into something manageable and achievable. She’s done that through a quantitative process of categorising her wishes numerically – not just a simple linear scale of 1 to 10 where 1 = least desirable and 10 = most desirable, but a multi-nodal approach with 2 integers defining the state of the wish.

In this multi-nodal system, each wish has 2 integers with each integer ranging from 1 to 5. The first integer indicates the desirability level: here, 1 = a bit desirable and 5 = very desirable. The second integer indicates the plausibility level: here, 1 = not very likely to happen and 5 = very likely to happen.

So, a wish on a business plan which scores 11 is both a bit desirable but not very likely to happen. A score of 55 indicates a wish which is both very desirable and highly likely to happen.

So, if you ever get stuck with a business plan which is loaded with wishes and looks in danger of falling out of the sky with a lack of fuel to carry them all, just apply this simple multi-nodal wish list indicator. It will get all your business ducks in a line and have the added advantage of helping you get to your business destination with your passengers and crew all in one piece and no threat of industrial action and historical ignominy.

Frozen is the new fresh, horse is the new beef and I am the Count of Monte Cristo.

The MD of Unilever enthused 5 years ago to a conference of school teachers and chlldren that creativity is essential for business success. He suggested that creativity should be at all levels of the business, “not just the top”.  He referred to various examples – Virgin Airlines  (apparently an airline which makes you feel special every time you travel on it), Top Shop  (“many of you go to top shop and can now buy high fashion at affordable prices” and the café chain Patisserie Valerie (which makes you feel like you’re in France allegedly).

He said that Unilever needs to recruit people who think differently, people who can work with you, not for you, and leaders at all levels of the organisation whose task was to ‘clarify what was wanted, be a voice from the front, encourage risk taking and awaken peoples passion.’  An example of what he meant by passion followed on film –  a 5 minute advert for Findus foods which was to indicate how his employees were having their passion awakened by the generation of new products and ideas: frozen vegetables.

He finished his sequence with questions from the conference panel: ‘are schools doing enough to generate creative ideas for business’ and ‘how could you make sprouts more appealing to children?’  His final comment, in some joking aside about the issue of school dinners… ‘our frozen food is fresher than fresh food… Frozen is the New Fresh’: now makes a lot more sense 5 years later with the recent horse meat scandal.

Now we know that ‘creativity’ is often an excuse for all sorts of linguistic shenanigens and that teachers at conferences on creativity and education often have to swallow a lot of frogs when it comes to assessing what is ‘good practice’.  But in the era when  Frozen can be the New Fresh and Horse can be the New Beef then I can clearly become the Count of Monte Cristo.

The porkie pies that Findus have been unashamedly peddling for years are at least out in the open although you might reasonably wonder whether there is something else other than pork in those pies.  Over-enthusiastic marketing is built upon a lot more than reconstituted delusional seaweed.