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Business Creativity & Innovation

Listening To Unreason

One of my favourite books is Charles Handy’s ‘The Age of Unreason’ where he puts forward some unreasonable ideas to solve problems. Using unreason can be both simple and effective but it also appeals because I like to find solutions that are right under other peoples noses. When there is a complicated problem to solve, many people will look for a complicated solution as if one must go with the other. Sometimes the elegant (and simple) solution can be found using unreason. Consider a common problem, that of traffic on our motorways. In order to get more cars along a given stretch of motorway we often have campaigns to increase the speed limit. Our motorways are not just race tracks. They have junctions, accidents and many different vehicles and driving styles which cause ¬†disturbances in the traffic. Often reducing the speed limit (as seen on many of our UK motorways with variable speed limits) actually decreases journey times. So in order to solve many of our business issues we could accept less money, work less hours or reduce our profits. At home we could buy smaller houses or hoard less possessions! In short we could stop looking for innovative solutions in the same place as everybody else. We could actually look for the wrong answers and maybe turn up a right answer or two.

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