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The most reliable framework – your instinct

Earlier this year I sat in a high end Milan hotel room scratching my head. I was holding a handy smart phone provided for the free use of guests. Reading the blurb on the phone it claimed I could use it to make calls free of charge while in the city. I could also access the internet and, should I wish to do so, access the adverts of the hotel and other sponsors. If I lost the phone, it reminded me that there would be a €50 charge.

I could see some benefits of using the phone – free calls was the obvious one. On the other hand, I had a mobile phone with a monthly pay plan that had no roaming charges and on which were all the apps I might need when wandering around the city. I didn’t feel the need to save three and four pence by using the phone that was offered in my hotel room. Nor could I see why any of the other guests in this swanky hotel would similarly use them. They too would surely have their own iPhones and could afford to use them. I was scratching my head trying to figure out what I was missing in this amazing offer.

It’s not the only new idea that has confused me. I can’t for the life of me see how the companies offering electric scooters or city bikes for hire can make any money. Who on earth is going to want to rent a bike in Manchester between November and March when it is blowing a gale and sheeting it down? Let me extend that. Who on earth is going to want to hire a bike in Manchester in the middle of August when it is sheeting it down?

And when it comes to food delivery companies, how on earth can they all make money? Has everyone given up cooking and are we all having meals delivered or have I just not noticed? Am I the only person happy to work from home instead of wanting to pay for a desk in a city centre smart space with free coffee and neon signs that pulse with powerful positive thoughts?

There is so much hype around innovation it is easy to be taken in by it. OK, some of the innovative ideas will make someone a million. Some will morph, adjust and eventually catch on. But if some of them seem cracked, it means that they probably are. I was reminded of this the other week when I read about the collapse of Tink Labs, a company that had raised $200 million as a start-up and provided smart phones in thousands of hotel rooms across the world. Just 12 months ago Mobike, a bike sharing scheme in Manchester, suspended its operations in the city. Is WeWork really worth $20 billion?

So what’s my point? My point is that we shouldn’t forget one of the most important frameworks of all is common sense. Your judgement, based on your experience, is one of your most valuable assets. You will feel challenged from time to time by media hype announcing some new scheme that has been launched by a business school dropout. Question everything. Ask yourself and others what they think of the ideas. Trust your instinct and if something seems crazy to you, it probably is.

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