Its enough to make you cry….

The Ig Nobel Prizes honour “achievements that make people laugh, and then think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.

This year included the Economics prize, this time awarded to three academics from New Zealand for “Assessing the personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective”…… [Laugh]

The actual title of the research paper gives a slightly different slant, The Brand Personality of Rocks: A Critical Evaluation of a Brand Personality Scale” which implies the brand personalities that different rocks may hold in people’s minds…… [Think]

Which in turn made me think of recent events closer to home – in some of the best UK Business Schools.

In B School strategy departments, there is a trend towards ‘Resource-Based Strategy’ (RBS) or as recently described by PWC in their journal Strategy+, ‘Capabilities-Driven Strategy’ (CDS) (http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/cds). I honestly thought that we had moved on from the 1980s when companies were convinced that competitive advantage was derived internally so they made what they knew how to make best – and were constantly surprised when customers didn’t buy their gold plated offerings. Market-based Strategy (MBS), where the organisation invests in understanding what tomorrow’s customers will want to buy before making anything at all had seemed to be gaining ground, but we seem to be moving backwards again. An organisation’s ‘resource’ or ‘capability’ is only a competitive advantage if their customers value it…… [Don’t Think]

In marketing departments, the regression is even worse. The ‘Theory of Planned Behaviour’ (TPB) is now being taught. This theory is based on the idea that customers make rational decisions! This might be acceptable in classes on theoretical Economics but TPB neatly rips up all the work on marketing since before Levitt in the 1960s. Customers are emotional and irrational beings…… [Don’t Think]

In 2016, with Brexit possibly staring us in the face, and structural change slowly taking us into the ‘New Normal’ business environment, this is no time for business schools, or any of us in business, to move backwards…… [Its enough to make you cry]