New business ideas take time

Oct 12 2005 by Edward de Bono Print This Article

How likely is an idea to be taken on board in a business if the benefits take six years to show and full benefits are not realised for 20 years?

Actually, the situation is worse than this: prior to the benefits of new business ideas showing, there is a period of confusion and negativity when there is criticism and questioning of costs. The negative aspects are apparent or assumed whereas the benefits lie dormant and you have to have a particular outlook to see them.

Very impressive results have been gained from a number of schools with a curriculum including the teaching of thinking directly. The good results do not only correspond to the thinking lessons Ė there is also an improvement in other subjects. Every pupil's performance can be improved in all areas by thinking.

Still, it is unlikely that a government would make the teaching of thinking compulsory as there would be much criticism from traditionalists and the benefits would take a while to show up in exam results. The benefit to the economy and the country as a whole would also take a significant amount of time.

Some types of change carry more immediate benefits, such as problem-solving. The problem is disrupting a system or individuals, so solving that problem is of instant benefit. Even in cases where the benefits are not immediate, they can be predicted easily.

Because of this, management thinking is too preoccupied with problem-solving.

For many, it is just another tool for problem-solving. When things are running satisfactorily they receive no attention. There is no motivation for looking at these areas because the benefits of change will not be immediate.

Improving things is harder than solving problems.

A drive towards simplicity should be a key part of any organisation's policy

One of the key outcomes of creative thinking is simplicity. Time, mental stress and money can be saved by simplification. Therefore, I believe a drive towards simplicity should be a key part of any organisation's policy.

All businesses should appoint a 'Simplicity Officer'. This person should encourage and refine business ideas for the simplifying of processes. Simplicity requires a deliberate effort as continuity is the natural instinct of organisations.

Suggesting something where the benefits are easily seen is the ideal design of change. The change can be trialled in a pilot scheme for a small area and then the benefits can make themselves apparent and act as motivation for expanding the change. Sometimes this is not possible.

The more common pattern of change is to let others try new ideas and then copy them if they work, or reject them if they do not work.

There is a risk to being first in the field. But it should always be remembered that benefits can take time to show up.

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About The Author

Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono (1933-2021) was a leading authority in the field of creative thinking. Over 35 years after the publication of his first book, "The Mechanism of Mind", the basic principles he outlined are now mainstream thinking in the mathematics of self-organising systems and in the design of neuro-computers. His many subsequent books have been translated into 26 languages.

Older Comments

If you really think it through, results do show up faster than one may expect.

Case in point: I took on a 57 year old student (I'm 40) who wanted to do commercial voice-overs. He has a glorious bass voice. His problem was with expression. In the very first session, when I got him to visualise his audience, his performance improved 1000 percent. Okay, let me put it in perspective; his second reading was 100 times better than his first. That's still a huge leap.

While I agree that a long-term view is essential, I contend that short-term gain is demonstrable and contributes in no small measure to the long-term goal.


Deepak Morris India

I would like to ask you are you aware how the business will look like in future. what will be the final result of all the competition. Iwould like to discuss if any one can discuss this with me.