A helpful way of finding creative solutions
Traditional methods of strategy show you how to analyse your strategic situation, but do not give you the next step, which is how to get a creative idea for what to do, according to William Duggan in his book Creative Strategy: A Guide for Innovation. The typical two-step strategy creation process involves firstly strategic research and analysis, and secondly brainstorming a solution. However, a brainstorming approach relies on information already in the participants’ heads, and usually results in a weak solution.
The author’s Creative Strategy approach provides a deceptively simple three-phase approach to coming up with an innovation:
- Phase 1 involves breaking a problem down into its element parts
- Phase 2 involves scanning sources to find precedents that fit each element
- Phase 3 involves combining a subset of those precedents to solve a problem
Thus the Creative Strategy approach spends less time and resources on initial strategic analysis, and a lot more time and resources on investigating what other firms, industries and cultures are doing, in order to discover precedents which could be imported as components of an entirely new strategy. The strongest strategies are devised through a process of external research and combination, rather than through a process confined to internal reflection.
So, does it work? In my opinion, the author makes out quite a persuasive case, and his method provides a convincing explanation for the scientific process behind many innovations which would otherwise be explained away as unrepeatable “flashes of inspiration”. He explains how the Creative Strategy process can be applied to a range of different types of innovation problems including: creating a new product, service or function; creating new business models; entrepreneurial innovation; social enterprise; and personal strategy. I recommend this book for anyone involved in business or non-profit strategy planning.