Strategy Needs Creativity
Game-changing strategies are often born of creative thinking: “a spark of intuition, a connection between different ways of thinking, a leap into the unexpected,” writes Adam Brandenburger, J.P. Valles Professor at the Stern School of Business, Distinguished Professor at the Tandon School of Engineering, and faculty director of the Shanghai Program on Creativity + Innovation at New York University. Brandenburger explores four approaches to help people make that creative leap to build a breakthrough strategy. He dubs the first approach "Contrast," which calls for the strategist to identify and challenge the assumptions "undergirding" the organization's status quo. This is both the most direct and often the most powerful way to reinvent an organization. He dubs the second approach "Combination." Some of the smartest strategy decisions come from linking services or offerings that seem independent from or even in tension with one another.
A third approach is "Constraint." Some of the best strategists look at an organization's limitations and consider how they might actually become strengths. Finally, there is "Context." This entails the decision-maker reflecting on how a similar problem was solved in an entirely different context. From that reflection, surprising insights may emerge. "At its core, strategy is still about finding ways to create and claim value through differentiation,” Brandenburger writes. “That's a complicated, difficult job."
Harvard Business Review (03/01/19) Brandenburger, Adam
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