Publications

My writing comes under three headings; finding the path back to growth, challenging assumptions and conventional wisdom, and weird stuff.

Finding the Path Back to Growth

I write a weekly column for forbes.com, where I have been described as “the leading authority on overcoming stuckness and reigniting growth.” The emphasis here is on practical strategies for doing just that.

There are also two white papers:

Finding the Path Back to Growth – a practical series of steps for finding the great business hidden inside your existing business.

Discontinuous Improvement – very often, when growth has stalled, it is because some basic assumptions no longer apply. This paper identifies the eight  most common assumptions that need to be changed to produce step change.

And a book:

Business Remastered - this is very specifically about raising profits, and is designed to be CFO-friendly.

Challenging Assumptions

The idea here is that we can easily become trapped by conventional wisdom, “industry best practice,”  habits and cliches.

In my Management Today column and my book Everything You Know About Business is Wrong I take aim at the whole body of conventional wisdom in business, tear it down and suggest what better ideas could be put in its place. For instance, I have argued why Searching for the Root Cause of a Problem Can be Futile,  Why Bonuses are Bad for Business,  and Why Business is Not All About People.

Some people find this stimulating; others find it a little too challenging. I also speak on this topic; here below is a talk on why innovation is so often hard, from a Management Today conference.

AlastairDryburgh from Alastair Dryburgh on Vimeo.

Getting Seriously Weird

Imagine the Deep Blue chess computer playing against…an exact copy of the same software.

Or imagine a battle between two armies both of whose commanders have read the same books – Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Jomini – and are applying the same theories in the same way.

What would the result be? At best, a horribly protracted no-score draw. At worst, a bloodbath (this was the story of the Battle of the Somme).

The same applies in business.

Imagine that you and all of your competitors have read Blue Ocean Strategy. Whenever a tiny bit of blue ocean opens up, everyone heads straight for it and it becomes the redder than red.

Or imagine a crowd of investment firms all with the same investment hypothesis and the same valuation model. The result? A mad scramble for the same small set of opportunities. Prices escalate to a point where investors are guaranteed to lose unless the company turns into the next Facebook.

The point is this. Learning the rules and the standard methods lets you keep up. Getting ahead means breaking the rules and doing something wrong, in a constructive way. You can’t do the usual things. There are two options:

  • Look where noone else is looking;
  • Notice what’s in front of everyone’s noses, but which they can’t see.

You need to do something unusual. Something completely specific to that particular time and place. Something that nobody else would think of doing, or wouldn’t see the point of doing. Where do you find these unique, unusual moves? Start with the OutSideEdge newsletter.