Thinking Differently

At a recent conference one of the speakers presented the following syllogism:

  • What drives a company -> sales
  • What drives sales -> marketing
  • What drives marketing -> data

The implication is clear, ultimately data drives a company. Unfortunately, this thinking is all too prevalent in the business world (perhaps, just the world, leave business out of it).

It is also wrong. Actually, it is not just wrong, it is confusing cause with effect. Data is not the cause of company activity, it is the effect of it.

Instead, I would like to posit the following syllogism:

  • What drives a company -> profit
  • What drives profit -> creating value for customers
  • What drives value for customers -> innovation
  • What drives innovation -> knowledge
  • What drives knowledge -> relationships (conversations)

In my chain it is relationships that ultimately drive a company.



  1. I agree with your chain. From perspective is PASSION (internal motivation) what drives knowledge. Knowledge you can gether even without relationships e.g from books, but never without motivation. Great thought. Thanks!

  2. Ed: I like your model. I see data or knowledge related to business in two buckets, data is the knowledge or information of the current market situation and data that is the result of business performance. Also, while relationships are important to building knowledge, I see a commitment to learning and the ability to listen as key drivers of knowledge. Regarding innovation, I see the ability to take risks and the commitment to continuous improvement as key drivers.

  3. Ed, I love it!

    Perhaps between profit and creating value for customers I would add risk.

  4. Thanks, all for your contributions to my thought process.

  5. Tim Veach says:

    Great thoughts, but I find them flawed.
    What drives innovation is not knowledge. It is imagination. One could perhaps make the case it is a combination. However, it is to be understood that knowledge can be based on beliefs, and the beliefs can be false, therefore at influencing innovation. The phrase that pays will always be “Think Different”.

  6. Ron Baker says:


    Great point. Didn’t Einstein say that imagination was more important than knowledge?

    This can get very complicated, because all innovations need to be tested and validated before they become knowledge, otherwise they are just a belief.

    But no doubt the imagination comes before the knowledge. It’s the leap, then the look.

  7. Tim Veach says:


    It was indeed the great Einstien.

    It’s good to hear from you…I am looking into the Firm of the Future event in San Francisco, trying to see if I can work it in. If so it will be great to meet you…. I have heard Mr Kless mention you many many times, as you are well aware. 🙂

    Have a great day!

  8. Thanks, Tim. I hope you can make it to San Francisco. The Symposiums are always great fun.

Speak Your Mind


Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.