Strategy will always have an attitude of seriousness…
After all, you are running a company where hundreds or thousands of lives depend on the decisions you make and the actions you take. During times of change and challenge, the decisions you make can mean the difference between success and failure, surviving and thriving.
So, it’s understandable that your team doesn’t approach strategic thinking like a couple of kids in an ad agency, sitting in bean bag chairs, tossing Nerf balls at each other and wondering if they should use a blue monkey to deliver the pitch.
On the other hand, all of your competitors have access to the same industry facts and trends as you do. So, analytics and metrics alone can never be the answer. At the end of the day, you have to take a hard look at the same facts everyone else sees, and see something different. And that is the realm of imagination.
Ultimately, a strategy is a hypothesis: “If we do X,Y&Z then we will increase market share by 10% and increase revenues by $30 billion dollars.” The scientific method shows how to prove or disprove that hypothesis. What the scientific method doesn’t show us is a proven, fail-safe method of creating an initial hypothesis. A hypothesis is certainly informed by the facts, but it also requires a strategic imagination. That means that every great strategy has a little blue monkey in it somewhere.
So, the next time you are staring at a bunch of spreadsheets and listening to your managers argue over what the datum really mean and which ones are relevant – do this: let your gaze drift across those facts on your desk and down into a drawer where, hidden from sight, you’ve placed a Nerf ball to remind you that this breakthrough strategy you’re working on is going to require a little dose of imagination.