MSU (Making Stuff Up) – Credibility and Creativity

MSU C (2)

I began speaking about the concept of MSU in 1986 when training sales representatives as a Regional Operations Manager. A few representatives, when faced with a difficult question, tried to bluff their way through their answers to tough questions. Their responses contained misinformation and outright lies. A few of them demonstrated unbelievable creativity under pressure to make up fantastic stories but distorted the facts. I was rather angry because we took the truth very seriously. We boasted to have one of the best trained sales forces in the industry. You had to achieve 90% to pass our product examinations. We stated the company policy around misinformation. Their credibility and the company’s reputation was on the line, therefore MSU was forbidden. We would not tolerate MSU (Making Shit Up). I apologized for the language, but it was a profoundly serious matter. Additionally, we told them that it made them look stupid because the doctors probably forgot more about medicine then they would ever know.

I must admit that some of the responses were rather creative. We applauded creativity but not in the dissemination of product information and following company policies and procedures.

MSU was such a catchy concept that we included it in our regular training vocabulary. We would openly talk about Making Stuff Up and the dangers of resorting to that practice in answering physician questions. MSU had value as it related to creativity and other areas. When I introduced the concept of MSU I would state that it did not stand just for Michigan State University.

Years later we were training physicians on presentation skills. I decided to drop in on one of the sessions. I noticed that on one slide were the letters MSU. This piqued my curiosity and I sat for the session. The presenter opened the session by saying he wanted to talk to them about MSU and it did not just stand for Michigan State University. It stood for Making Stuff Up. I was impressed but, I sat there speechless. I did not recall reading about MSU before that fateful day in 1986 in our sales training seminar.

15 years later I was in my office as an Area Sales Director. One of our trainers (Field Development Leaders) gave me a book. The book was titled MSU (Making Something Up). And 10 years later in Zambia, South Africa, one of our pastors conducted a workshop on MSU, Making Stuff Up; obviously, it was a well-established concept.

MSU is therefore a viable practice. It is a catalyst for creativity and a warning. We must use it wisely because authenticity and transparency are required to enhance your credibility. As a leader, is important to be aware of MSU and how adopting this mindset can be used to make decisions, answer questions, solve problems and enrich our world through creative thinking and innovation.

Copyright © 2020 Orlando Ceaser

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