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Strategy as a piece of art

January 20, 2012

In the previous post “Creating our company’s strategic storyline“, I  described how I think creating a storyline, describing ‘the meaning of life’ for an organisation can help people within the company ‘own’ the strategy. And in the post before that “How does my personal identity compare to my organisation’s identity?“, I described three approaches to describe a strategy: strategy as a shared direction, strategy as a set of core competences, and strategy as a set of shared beliefs. In this post, I would like to add another perspective: strategy as a piece of art.

As I argued in my last post, I believe that a good strategy should include the how, what and why, and include a future perspective. However, for it to become a true piece of art, it should also include some background. Why is our current strategy different from last year’s strategy? What were the considerations that brought us to these strategic choices? Did we have any doubts about this, or were we pretty sure about what to do? Having answers to these questions, for me provides the background, and ‘human touch’ necessary for me to embrace the strategy.

For me that’s where the art comes into the strategy. The personal value of a piece of art is not only in the way we see feel or hear it, or the ‘face value’, but also in what we believe it really is, or where it came from. In his talk “The origins of pleasure” (see below), Paul Bloom explains how this works along some clear examples. My view is that this is also true for strategic communications.

Video: Paul Bloom, the origins of pleasure

Even if objectively, our strategic communications are great, it could be of low value to an individual employee because of her/his (subjective) perception of it. As, like Bloom argues, our beliefs about the history of an object change how we experience it, we might consider adding some historical background to our communications. We want to know how it came about, and that a lot of work and expertise went into it. While talking about the future direction of our organisation or team, we could for instance consider sharing some stories about our considerations and the doubts that we had while shaping our thoughts on this. Probably it would be even better to actually include people in the process, but even sharing the thought process could help.

Another point Bloom makes is that for a piece of art to be perceived as valuable, it should be considered original. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is also true for communications on strategy. Is a strategy more valuable if it’s distinctly different than that of other organisations or teams? I guess so.

When designing a description of our organisational or team identity (probably a better word than strategy?), we could consider adding a ‘past perspective’ to the mix. Combined with the what- why- how- questions, it could look something like this:

 

 Strategy as a piece of art?

I realise the comparison between a strategy and a piece of art is a bit makeshift, but my point is that it might be good to approach it in a similar way, especially in our communications.

I hope this makes sense, if only a little. Please let me know if you would like to share your view on this, or if you have suggestions for improving or extending my reasoning.

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