Developing strategies that work

There is no such thing as a single “right strategy” because it is impossible to test the outcome for every path discarded and rejected as the strategy was formed. However “possible solutions” should be tested as learning from the results can greatly improve the strategy in an iterative fashion.

For many people this statement could be a bit shocking, especially for people that are not flexible in their way of thinking. People who don’t value collaboration or co-creation may not be objective or those that are too scared to fail may block their creativity and intuitiveness when defining their strategies.

According to Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto in Canada and author of “The design of business”, a great strategist’s core attitudes are flexibility, creativity and resilience.

In a recent article from Harvard Business Review, Roger states that to become a great strategist you should:

  • Be comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty

Smart people tend to search for the “right” answer as they don’t like to make mistakes that could affect their image. A good strategist should be able to feel comfortable with ambiguity and accept the fact that there are potential solutions and not a definitive answer.

“Strategy requires making choices about an uncertain future. It is not possible, no matter how much of the ocean you boil, to discover the one right answer.”

  • Be creative

A good strategist sees the problem from different angles and explores multiple solutions with an open and imaginative mind, knowing that their views could be changed partially or totally after testing.

  • Accept failure

The best strategies come from people that have experimented both failure and success. A good strategist should feel comfortable with the possibility of failure and consider it as part of a learning curve in order to improve the strategy.

  • Embrace diversity of thinking

A variety of attitudes and thinking approaches enrich the idea generation as it brings different points of view and a broad range of qualities. A good strategist should respect opposite opinions and ideas as it will enrich the final approach.

  • Combine analytical thinking with intuitive thinking

In another article from Fastcompany, Roger stated that to create new and amazing business strategies, business executives should combine “analytical thinking” with “intuitive thinking” to maximise creativity and produce innovative ideas. Business people traditionally use analytical thinking to define strategies through a deep analysis of facts and figures that reflect the past in order to produce reliability.

Relying exclusively on analytical thinking merely refines current knowledge, producing small improvements to the status quo. To innovate and win, companies need to include design thinking. Design thinking combines creative and critical thinking. A design mindset is not problem-focused, it’s solution focused, and action oriented. When design principles are applied to strategy and innovation, the success rate dramatically improves.

(Video from an article at Fast Company)

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