Whole-brain Strategy

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We human beings tend to see what we expect to see, and this often constricts the aperture through which we view potential solutions to a problem. But the clearest vision of the future is seen through the widest lens—one that combines both analytical and creative input. As it is with physical eyesight, so it is with marketing foresight. During a strategic positioning exercise, the optimal path is most likely to be discovered when both kinds of thinking are in play. Call it whole-brain strategy.

The analytical half of the equation is what we at Posit think of as “recon and report” or “R&R”: doing reconnaissance in a defined area and reporting on what you find. The creative half consists of blue-sky exploration and imagining new possibilities. The analytical half sees what exists; the creative half envisions what does not. It’s not only identifying white space in the matrix, but also playing with the labels on the axes.

Let’s say you’re a reusable shopping bag manufacturer. Analyze your direct competitors, existing customers and current market conditions in the “recyclable bag” space, and you’ll see one thing. Consider alternative consumer solutions to the plastic shopping bag problem, and you’ll see another. Imagine a product category that doesn’t yet exist, but that you may be ideally suited to establish, and your perspective shifts yet again.

Limiting your strategic thinking to R&R—keeping it “in the box”—is the intellectual equivalent of leaving money on the table. It can lead to me-too positioning, a culture that discourages innovation and missed opportunities for market disruption. Of course, strategic decisions based on “what if” thinking alone often lead to disasters of a different sort. It’s the synthesis of the two that defines sound, complete, strategic thinking.

Our approach? Imagine with abandon, evaluate with discipline. Whole-brain strategy is as much an art as a science, and it’s one of the hallmarks of wildly successful organizations.

 

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