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The practice of Strategic Design

Let’s be honest; we can solve about 98% of the daily problems in our business by being rational.

Rationality provides us with a base for efficiency - it enables us to streamline our processes, use fewer resources and reducing waste.

Rational thinking is the base for incremental innovation and occurs when managers adopt the latest best practices and technologies emerging in the industry.

There is though a natural limit for incremental innovation, it only applies to the current understanding of our: industry, product or service and customer. It works inside the current box.

Current order of an Industry

What happens when the box is full? When competition becomes so harsh that is no longer worth playing the game?

The only way for a company to avoid running out of business is to innovate.

But innovation is the byproduct of creativity. To innovate any company needs to be able to re-frame, to change the perceptions of the following:

1) Processes. 2) Customers. 3) Needs.

Given the presence of new and aggressive competitors emerging during the 70’s Philips had to convert their manufacturing plants from producing home appliances to healthcare devices. Despite minor technical challenges in adjusting machinery and workflows the real problem (which goes mostly ignored) faced by the management was to shift perception from producing and selling home appliances to healthcare products.

Form home appliances to Healthcare

Pure strategic thinking and rationality alone would never have made this shift possible.

While achieving superior performances was the goal of management during the 20th-century creative thinking is the most significant challenge management faces in the 21st-century.

Today as managers we have a choice to make - we can wait for the industry to change and then adapt to it, or becoming the driver of change by anticipating it. Strategic design offers us the toolkit and the process necessary to de-risk our growth initiatives.

While improvements in the efficiency of the production process (frequently raining down from the top of the organisation) are made possible by the implementation of new technologies, enhancement in creativity can’t be ordered.

Creativity is a human gift, which will never be replaced by technology or furthered by command, instead, it needs to be cultivated and rooted in the culture of an organisation.

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