What is GOBO?

To most of us, running a business is complicated. As soon as one problem is resolved, another two materialise. A stable business depends upon the successful interaction of marketing, sales, operations, finance and premises; but the larger the organisation, the more difficult it is to manage this interaction. A constantly changing external environment does not make it any easier. The reality however, is that the processes of running a business are often quite straightforward; it is people that make things complicated. Over the years, I have learned that it often pays to look at a problem in a different way, and attempt to simplify what we do and why we do it. I call it “Looking for the GOBO”.

I first came across the term GOBO in 1996 when I attended a brilliant workshop on marketing budgets by a gentleman called Ray Wiltshire. Ray was a man with significant personal presence, characterised by his big walrus moustache, and he had his audience’s rapt attention whenever he spoke. His opening remarks immediately engaged us when he announced that the morning session was to be little more than a series of glimpses of the blindingly obvious. In a three-hour session, he talked to us about some of the fundamentals of marketing and how marketing works at a human level.


Looking back, that session stuck in my memory as one of a number of “Eureka!” moments in my career. It brought about a realisation that if you can look at a problem in such a way that it can be articulated in human terms, then the answer is often blindingly obvious. The point here is that just because something is obvious, it does not mean it is immediately clear. As human beings, we are often blinded by complexity or emotion, and therefore it takes some thinking to put matters into perspective.

My website is designed to provide an alternative way to look at a number of the big issues that management struggle with. Over the next few months, I will be posting articles giving my personal take on issues such as business strategy, sales, marketing, and operational improvement. I make no claims to any form of gifted insight, and I’m certainly not a management guru. Over 25 years of managing different businesses, I have constantly had an appetite to learn a better ways of doing things. I have learned the value of using the GOBO approach as an alternative way of moving people to a place where the blindingly obvious suddenly becomes clear.

My intention is to give you some ideas that you may not have previously considered. I have a personal opinion that there is little real intellectual property in management theory or processes. I believe that once an idea is given the freedom of the open air, it can be absorbed, interpreted, adapted or mangled to fit another set of circumstances. This is the joy of ideas. Human beings are highly imaginative, and we have no shortage of ideas.  The real challenge is to make the idea useful. When I was a young man, my old friend and mentor, Jimmy James, asked me an important question: ‘Do you want to have the credit for your idea, or do you want to see it implemented?’ This caused me some confusion at the time, but I came to see that it was only when others took ownership of a concept and adapted it themselves that anything actually happened.

So please feel free to take the thoughts, ideas and observations that will be developed on this site and make them you own. Your part of the deal is to do something with them.