Without creativity there is no sustainable strategy. Four approaches help solve this

Without creativity there is no sustainable strategy.


Four approaches help solve this

Thomas Reiner | 06.02.2020

At universities, students learn that for strategic issues, structured analysis tools are to be used. The problem with this is that although these tools are ideally suited to analyze existing business, they are hardly suitable for developing ideas for change.
This is where creativity is required. Because in times of disruptive changes caused by sustainability, circular economy and digital transformation, the future can no longer be simply derived from the past. As a result, we’ve got to approach strategic issues much more creatively in order to find valid and successful solutions.
Four approaches for developing ground-breaking strategies can be described under the terms “contrast”, “combination”, “constraint” and “context”. Kudos to Adam Brandenburger for his respective contribution in the Harvard Business Review.

This approach involves identifying, questioning and, if necessary, refuting the basic assumptions of the existing strategy. For example, the founders of PayPal refuted the widespread assumption that payment transactions are only possible and secure between institutions.

How can traditionally separate products or services be combined? This approach is about creating connections across borders. For example, a Chinese social media platform now offers integrated services for mobile payments. This means that users no longer have to leave their social network to make purchases (or sales).

Creative thinking can turn constraints into opportunities. In principle, several approaches are possible in every situation. However, constraints lead to the fact that we may only think in one direction, which later turns out to be wrong. Example: Tesla did not have a dealer network at the beginning of its activities unlike the established car manufacturers. Instead of pursuing the obvious idea of building a dealer network, they decided to sell their vehicles online.

This approach involves removing a problem from its original context and looking for another context in which a similar problem has already been solved. The “comparative context” may well come from a completely different industry or even from a different time. An example of this is the “Intel Inside” campaign, with which Intel transferred the “brand product” approach to the high-tech industry of microprocessors.