Monday, 7 December 2009

Magnolia strategy

In the UK, conventional wisdom suggests that, if you want to sell your home, you should paint it magnolia. Magnolia is a warm off-white which is considered to be neutral and inoffensive, and therefore broadens the audience to which your property might appeal.

And therein lies its weakness. Magnolia is the lowest common denominator. Specifically designed to offend the fewest number of people. The common-or-garden variety colour. But by the same token, unlikely to "wow" anyone either.

It strikes me that many business strategies are written in magnolia ink. A compromise hammered out in a boardroom, between people who, even if they have strong views individually, are unable to agree on anything remarkable collectively. Where it seems safer to follow the herd that to stand out.

Good strategies stand out for being boldly differentiated, not for fading into the background. Good strategies divide opinion: those who buy into it support it with passion and commitment, whilst the detractors declare that it will never work (and subsequently eat their words). Good strategies create value by adding something new and different to the world, be it a new product or a new process. Good strategies are written in bright colours with bold lines.