Thought for the Day 24 August 2017
Many of you may have heard of Abraham Maslow, who originated the Maslow Hierarchy of needs in the 1940’s. This hierarchy is most often used by behavior theorists to explain motivation. But Maslow also had a less known idea called the “law of the instrument”, which is also called “Maslow’s Hammer”. This idea is paraphrased in my thought for today as:
“If the only tool you have is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail!”
What this means in real life, is that if you have limited capabilities or tool-kits or strategies for your business then you may be tempted to panel-beat all your plans to fit in with what you have available. This is, of course, a temptation. But, it should be resisted because it ignores the fact that context is important. And your present context may be entirely different from the one that caused you to develop the capabilities, tool-kits or strategies that you have. Consequently, they are inappropriate for the needs of your new context. Another example could be when you are starting a new business and someone comes to you and says that you should use his approach because it worked brilliantly for him. This would only be good advice if his business is exactly the same as yours and also if his business was in the same startup phase as yours when he used his approach. Otherwise the contexts are different and his approach could be totally wrong for you at this stage.
So beware of simplistic approaches, understand your context and set goals accordingly. Then apply approaches that fit the context of what you are trying to achieve.
Then you will hit whatever nail you are aiming at, right on the head.