Much that we term “out-of-the-box” thinking is pretty tame stuff – too tame to generate much learning other than how to better the current state. That’s why I’m asking this question. Thinking through the answer might move us to a new frame of reference that reveals practical opportunities to please customers, even if the core premise seems outlandish.
For example, one likely outcome would be basing CEO selection on aptitude for specific customer types and situations, rather than on “name” or reputation doing business under very different conditions. A classic case is Home Depot selecting Bob Nardelli from GE to run a retail operation. Hell, Nardelli can’t even spell “consumer” – or customer for that matter. Customers would never have elected him. And sure enough, he was a disaster who nearly took down the company.
A second would be CEO candidates getting outside their executive suites and face-to-face with customers, alias “voters,” to campaign. Wouldn’t whomever customers elected be far more accepting of letting customers drive the business – rather than functional silos. And wouldn’t they tend to be far more successful? So why shouldn’t CEOs get out in front of customers, election or no?
And how about this one? If companies held periodic elections, say every three years, doing right by society – as opposed to Wall Street creating societal damage – would become a significant electability factor. But elections notwithstanding – in competitive situations, companies making positive contributions to society should have a powerful tie-breaker – and potentially a leg up from the get-go.
Sometimes, starting with a seemingly preposterous, “great but it will never happen” notion will stimulate fresh thinking we wouldn’t experience trying to push out from current reality. And on occasion, it will produce a new reality.