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2021’s Top Ten: #4

OUTSIDE THE BOX, for real this time! (Transforming Strategy in 2021) Episode 1: Dreamers and Sober People

We have heard so many times that we need to “think outside the box”. People have been throwing this phrase around for a while, and we are getting to the point where, although it has become a business buzzword, the phrase has no real meaning for most people. That’s because people who work at companies are always encouraged to think in a completely different dimension, yet nothing really happens when they do. So, many people believe that they think and work “outside the box” even when they do not. But if there were ever a time to start applying this approach, it would be now!

Dreamers and sober people

When we talk about transformation, especially on strategic issues, we can distinguish three methodologies. The first says that we should let our minds run wild and not worry about our current limitations and capabilities. Let your imagination soar. The second teaches that the first thing to do is to define one’s capabilities and limitations, and only after that is it possible for us to think about all the new directions. The third combines the two in different proportions. There’s nothing wrong with that because there are very innovative companies and very conservative companies, and of course, some are in between the two extremes. The dreamers are very proud of their ability to formulate brand new directions and are not really concerned with their feasibility. And sober people take immense pride in their ability to think realistically and not chase vain dreams. The two camps don’t even really want to move closer together, the main reason being that both are satisfied with their own approach. In principle, that is fine. As long as we don’t have a major change in our lives like the pandemic. Crises like these teach us the need to rethink our activities. Moreover, to reflect on the merits: is the direction we are taking still fundamentally the right one? Well, this is perhaps the most difficult part of the change of strategy. After all, there are several years, or even decades, of characteristics and habits, and when we talk about change, we obviously need to move in relation to where we started from.

In other words, when we talk about a dreamer, “outside the box” means something completely different to a dreamer than to a sober person. So what should we do now? First of all, we need to define which camp we belong to. What happens at this time is that everyone tries to fit in between the two endpoints. After all, the new is more comfortable, more modern, and we don’t have to face the fact that we can’t really implement our dreams, we always fail while implementing them, and even if we gather professionals around us to help us, in most cases, we choose people who follow us instead of those who understand us. Under no circumstances do we bring someone into our direct decision-making circle who constantly contradicts or shows the contrasts, because that is so tiring. And if we are sober, who could miss a person who is always trying to change and who does not appreciate the present? So, the dreamer chooses a more sober dreamer, and the sober person chooses another sober person that occasionally dreams. And this makes them feel and think of themselves as being between the two endpoints. Even though not much has changed, and there will now be a heavy price to pay in 2021. So, when we advise top decision-makers to choose between the three categories, we force them to choose an endpoint to which they feel closer. Only then can we start to transform strategy and really talk about concrete practices and “outside the box” solutions, not just theory.

Next episode

OUTSIDE THE BOX, for real this time! (Transforming Strategy in 2021) Episode 2: Dreaming in 2021