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The Critical Thinker SM

PURE & SIMPLESM Critical Thinking Tips Used By Winners

Issue 6/09

If you want to grow, don’t


forget the Growth Factor!
One element of that framework should prompt us to consider
the “Growth Factor” of the concerns we face when prioritizing
“The lofty oak from small acorn grows” our work. Growth Factor isn’t some mysterious steroid; it
represents the fact that even innocuous looking situations have
Lewis Duncombe the potential to explode to a level of seriousness many times
their initial magnitude.
I came across the above quote recently and it got my If we don’t consider the Growth Factor, we might not
attention for two reasons. Firstly, it is certainly very inspirational, prioritize the situations on our plate effectively and thus end up
and it is with this intent that I imagine Lewis Duncombe with a rather unsavory dish. Customer service is one of the many
envisioned it. areas loaded with such possibilities. For example, an apparently
Secondly, and this is what really got my interest, it gives the isolated complaint, if not addressed effectively, could flare up
impression that growth is a gradual, almost sedate affair. After into an “international social media incident”, fueled by the likes
all, it takes decades for an oak tree to grow. Of course, in of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
business, we know that this is not true. That business is more The Case Of “United Breaks Guitars”
“fast paced than ever” has become so clichéd, yet it is most
certainly true! Consider the following: Not convinced? Just ask United Airlines!
♦ The manufacturer of the world’s best selling portable They didn’t resolve a complaint about the alleged
music playing device entered the space only 8 years ago 1 mistreatment by their baggage handlers of a guitar to the
♦ The world’s most profitable mobile phone company satisfaction of its owner, Dave Carroll, who had wanted
didn’t even sell its first phone until 2 years ago 2 compensation for the cost of the $1,200 repair4. Little did they
know that Mr Carroll is an accomplished musician who, after
♦ The world’s current best selling recording artiste was a “giving up” on the formal resolution channel, decided to
nondescript Scottish spinster 11 months ago 3 compose a song about the incident. The ditty, complete with
entertaining YouTube video, quickly did a “Susan Boyle” and
What should be our takeaway from these two Apples and a
was picked up by CNN , CBS and FOX who catapulted Mr
Boyle? It’s possible to go from nowhere to #1 in an increasingly
Carroll into a social media star. Mr Carroll rejected United’s
shorter span of time. As strategists, the implications are many,
subsequent offers to settle the case; his “investment” of $1,200
but that’s a topic for The Strategic Thinker.
had caused a publicity bonanza that he couldn’t possibly hope
Think About The Growth Factor to generate by any other means. To date, the various clips,
including sequels(!), have generated nearly 8 million views!
There are implications of this “fast paced” world for us at the
Does this mean we need to “jump” on all issues that come
day-to-day level too.
our way? Not necessarily. Some issues have a negative Growth
We need to have a robust and time efficient thinking Factor. Any parent will tell you that their squabbling kids, on the
framework that enables us, and our teams, to manage situations verge of strangling each other one minute, can become best
rapidly whilst avoiding the peril of unwittingly lighting fires left, buddies again 5 minutes later, without any parental intervention.
right and centre. This is the essence behind The Critical Thinker Some of your “people issues” may experience a similar profile.
articles.
But it does mean that the Growth Factor is something that we
need to consider when we are planning and prioritizing our
activities for the coming days, weeks and months. How many
1
Dave Carrolls do you have lurking in your Inbox?
The iPod was released on October 23, 2001
2
Apple’s 2009Q3 profit from its iPhone division was $1.6bn compared to $1.1bn from Nokia in
second place. The original iPhone was available for sale on June 29, 2007 So … if you want to grow, don’t forget the Growth
3

4
“I Dreamed A Dream” was #1 on the UK and US album charts as at December 14, 2009
Google or Wikipedia “United Breaks Guitars” to see the full story
Factor.
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