An imaginitive approach for entrepreneurs

As the nanny state is scaled back, it will leave a vacuum for businesses to fill

The coming months and years will be hard, and the battle to bring down the deficit will change all our lives. Most people assume this is a change for the worse, but it may not necessarily be so. The Government’s aim to scale back the state could produce business opportunities, especially for firms operating locally and in highly focused ways. But, for the parts of Britain that have been blighted by unemployment and deprivation for years, the opportunities appear less promising. Yet when things are this bad, it could be worth taking a different approach.

Piero Morosini, an Italian-Peruvian who has been selected as one of the next generation of management thought leaders, offers some encouragement. His book Seven Keys to Imagination (Marshall Cavendish, £12.99) uses examples as diverse as the rise of the Zara fashion chain and the triumphs of an Italian community for rehabilitating drug addicts to show what can be done when individuals combine a vision with the determination to make it a reality.

Take the story of Amancio Ortega, a tailor in Galicia, Spain, who created the notion of “instant fashion” by pursuing his vision of enabling ordinary people to enjoy the latest fashionable clothes. Together with computer expert Jose Maria Castellano, he developed a distribution model that enabled Zara to quickly respond to consumer trends and deliver new “cheap-chic” items each week, instead of the fashion norm of once a season. It did so on such a scale that Zara outlets soon sprang up worldwide, and it did it so cheaply it generated far more profits than its more traditional rivals.

Vincenzo Muccioli, an Italian insurance broker, has built a modern marvel in his San Patrignano community. Starting with an attempt to understand the plight of young drug users he came

across in his native Rimini, Muccioli concluded they lacked families, so he set about creating one for them. Thirty years later, San Patrignano has 2,000 hardened drug users involved in its programme, the largest such establishment in the world. But what makes it remarkable is not its size, but its achievements, which include producing world-class wines and world-class showjumping horses, as well as the world’s highest drug rehabilitation rate – 72 per cent.

The community works through “guests” completing an education that typically lasts three years. They choose to learn a range of skills, from wine-making and gourmet cooking to photography and horse-breeding. But whatever they do they are expected to achieve world-class results. Moreover, guests do not use therapists or drug replacements, such as methadone. The programme costs about €10,000 a year per guest, compared with more than €20,000 for typical methadone-based courses, and is free to guests. It is financed by the sale of the community’s products and services, as well as more conventional fund-raising activities.

What links these stories and the other tales in the book, is each has a determined individual with a dream. Although that describes most entrepreneurs, Morosini says his examples are linked by seven essential elements he calls the “seven keys to the imagination”, because “they can be recognised, developed and applied by all individuals, teams and organisations who have the courage and determination to unlock their power to imagine and create successful futures for themselves.”

The first two involve trading on mindset and customer obsession, with the aim of enabling individuals to imagine “radically new, unimaginable futures” by seeing around them important things that others keep missing. The next four – Wiraqocha leaders and tinkunacuy, Peruvian concepts that loosely mean inspirational leaders and co-operation based on respect, as well as gentlemen’s promises and common glue – all allow imaginative individuals and teams to make the challenging mental pictures they originally conceived a reality. The remaining key, purposeful mission, turns these imaginary thoughts into a results-oriented process.

With Muhammad Yunus, who pioneered a microfinance programme for the poor in Bangladesh, reportedly planning to bring the concept to Britain, the time could be right for enterprises to take off in unpromising situations. Some of the ventures might be not-for-profit social enterprises, others might be more conventional, but all have at stake the prize of – as Morosini might put it – improving the futures of ordinary people.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £32,000+

£18000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?