Creativity is one of the most important attributes common to successful business leaders. A creative disposition is critical to effective problem solving, business improvement, and, perhaps most importantly, setting a course for the future. It is impossible for any business to simply continue down the same path and remain successful. The external business environment is changing faster and more dramatically than ever, meaning that there is a constant need to adapt and transform.
Creativity is vital to survival
If you cannot imagine how your external environment will change in the future then you will be completely unprepared to make the necessary internal transformations. However, creativity is also essential when formulating a vision for the future of your company. Without creativity, your vision is certain to be a reiteration of your past, leaving your business vulnerable to competition and external variations.
Too many business leaders fear creativity: they are anxious that they will arrive at a place that is too far removed from the realms of possibility. The missing element here is strategic transformation. Once a creative concept has been established, it can be transformed by strategic analysis into an inspiring vision for the future of a company.
Strategic approaches to realise a creative vision
There are two different strategic approaches that can be applied to realise a creative vision – the learning strategy or the strategic plan. The level of uncertainty associated with each component of the creative vision will determine which approach is appropriate.
1. Learning strategy
This approach is recommended for the opportunities revealed by the creative vision in which the level of uncertainty is high. The learning strategy will involve:
- Identifying several possible pathways allowing for exploration or experimentation
- Building a strong team to follow each pathway
- Determine a certain amount of time to dedicate to each pathway
- After a predetermined timeframe, analysing the findings and determining the best way to achieve the expected result
- When the level of uncertainty becomes acceptable, the desired outcome should be incorporated into the strategic plan
2. Strategic plan
This approach is recommended where the level of uncertainty is low or moderate. The strategic plan will involve:
- Developing an action plan collectively
- Allocating clear accountabilities, results expected and deadlines
- Ensuring that organisational capabilities and resources are aligned with the plan
- Reviewing progress monthly using performance indicators created specifically for the plan
Tools that can be effective in transforming a creative vision include:
- SWOT analysis
- Industry competitive forces (Porter’s Five Forces)
- Core competence agenda
- Value chain analysis, and;
- Specific surveys