Bringing Science to the Art of Strategy

October 10, 2015   |   by Chris Kalaboukis

This is an inspiring article, and challenges all of us to think outside our innovation box:
Many managers feel they are doomed to weigh the futile rigor of ordinary strategic planning processes against the hit-or-miss creativity of the alternatives. We believe the two can be reconciled to produce creative but realistic strategies. The key is to recognize that conventional strategic planning is not actually scientific. Yes, the scientific method is marked by rigorous analysis, and conventional strategic planning has plenty of that. But also integral to the scientific method are the creation of novel hypotheses and the careful generation of custom-tailored tests of those hypotheses—two elements that conventional strategic planning typically lacks. It is as though modern strategic planning decided to be scientific but then chopped off essential elements of science.

The approach we’re about to describe adapts the scientific method to the needs of business strategy. Triggered by the emergence of a strategic challenge or opportunity, it starts with the formulation of well-articulated hypotheses—what we term possibilities. It then asks what would have to be true about the world for each possibility to be supported. Only then does it unleash analysts to determine which of the possibilities is most likely to succeed. In this way, our approach takes the strategy-making process from the merely rigorous (or unrealistically creative) to the truly scientific. (See the exhibit “Seven Steps to Strategy Making.”)

Rad the entire article at Harvard Business Review: