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Creative thinking - the essence of positive-sum competition

The way we think about business competition is gradually moving away from war-like scenarios, towards a positive sum game, which is a game where multiple competitors can (simultaneously) win.

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It all started in the 50’s with strategic planning. Planning was basically a rational exercise aiming at defeating the competition. Achieving a higher level of efficiency was the key to success.

Then in the 80’s, we moved towards strategic thinking. We started to understand that business competition is not a zero-sum game!

''Multiple competitors can succeed in the same industry as long as they develop a different value proposition.''

Welcome to differentiation strategy.

Here is the problem though: how do we differentiate from our competitors?

''While rational thinking enables us to achieve a higher level of efficiency in our processes, it falls short to provide us with guidance when we want to differentiate.''

Let’s welcome design thinking. In the last five to seven years the management of more and more organisations has started borrowing the designer’s toolkit in order to differentiate their product/service.

''Despite we as managers are making huge steps forward in becoming more creative in our thinking, our journey is only starting.''

In order to embrace creative thinking, we need to be able to let things go, to ‘temporarily’ suspend our rational thinking and judgment about a possible new idea. This is the biggest change and challenge that we are facing for the foreseeable future.

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