In the Superbrothers article Less talk more rock featured on Boing Boing, the authors, both spawning from the gaming industry, suggests that a project should skip the first strategic phase and go directly for the creative process. The argument goes that there is, amongst a range of things, a spark at the initial creation of an idea that often gets killed as the process gets bogged down for months in enervating strategy and research.
– The article is highly recommended, find it here.
Being a Planner it might sound counter intuitive but I found the argument not only valid, but exceptionally interesting to pursue. I am not convinced that the traditional strategic approach is the most effective approach. And I am looking for alternatives.
In their article the Superbrothers suggest that you don’t skip the strategy phase, but you come back to it… so there was hope.. but how would this work?
The traditional waterfall process suggests a value chain where strategists and planners find all the solutions at the beginning – before any good questions have been asked and ignoring the value of the creative process exploring ideas in areas where the strategic process doesn’t travel.
It is my opinion that a strategic process often starts with the demand and then sets of to find all the answers in a straight line – you write an interview guide before asking anybody even one question, so you wall your search in between these limitations of what to explore and which outcome to look for –. Not allowing for the event where the first question to the first person might completely turn everything on its head.
The traditional strategic process is essentially geared to finding the same answers every time.
There is a lack of creativity in strategy! Strategy needs to enjoy and explore the same full spectrum of alternatives and possibilities as a creative process, but it can’t do this on its own – it needs to be implemented into the creative process. This is what I term Applied strategy.
Applied strategy suggests that the creative process takes lead and naturally integrates the strategic process in the search for answers, solutions and possibilities jumping out at the opportunities being explored. The creative and strategic process needs to develop and explore solutions together.
The traditional water fall process suggests that the strategy identifies all the answers at the beginning, and that these answers just needs to be crafted out in accordance with the brand guidelines, business goals and a decent amount of originality.
The applied strategy approach suggests that the process needs to start with a simple springboard – not a strategic brief. The springboard is a definition of the direction and goal of the project, but is completely open to the process in regards to what the product might be. It then invites the exploratory creative process to work collaboratively with the strategic team in exploring and finding the right answers and possibilities to the different ideas and solutions discovered.
As an example:
The water fall approach sets out with the idea that the company is building a website. The strategy identifies and conceptualizes the solution before the creative craft is asked to skin and brand it.
In applied strategy the company defines that it’s goal is to capitalize on customer relationships, and then limit the exploration/creative process to online, digital or connected technologies.
Helge works as a Planner for SDG, helping brands and organizations discover WHY they are valuable in consumers lives, and HOW they can create deliberate value on the arenas and inside the interfaces where they connect with them. @congbo