The premise of this blog post is that “conventional strategic planning is not actually scientific”. Strategic planning lacks development of new hypothesis and testing out those hypothesis. In this post, we will talk about the 7 steps to adapt the scientific method to the needs of the business strategy.
The first step talks about moving from issues to choice. Large organization must not get themselves into the loop of investigating data related to the issues. Instead, a majority of that portion of time is better spent on analyzing and testing out possible solutions.
The second step is on generating strategic possibilities. Now, that the organization has pivoted itself to choices rather than issues, managers should start considering the wide array of possibilities. Genuinely new strategic possibilities are hard to create. A combination of imagination, clear thinking and well-grounded team are required to come up with such creative options.
After all the possibilities have been generated, the third step is to specify prior conditions which must be true for each possibility to be a terrific choice. Therefore this step is mainly about assessing the validity of a strategic option. Consideration of evidence at this point would be premature. The discussion must center around what must be true rather than what is true. At the end , if all the listed conditions were true then the team must advocate for that choice.
The fourth step is to identifying barriers.The team must determine which of the multiple conditions from step three are least likely to hold true. This is the step which focuses on what is likely to be true rather than “if it were true”.
The fifth step is to actually design the tests. For each key barrier in step fur , the team must devise a valid and sufficient test to generate commitment. The most skeptical person(s) in the room for each barrier must design the particular test. The reasoning is that if the person or group of persons are satisfied by the test then everyone should be as well ,since they will have the highest standard of proof. The test might involve creating surverys, number crunching or anything at all. Its most important that the entire group believe that the test is valid and can form the basis for rejecting the possibility or generating commitment to it.
The penultimate step is to now conduct the tests designed in step five. Least confident tests must be done first as compared to more confident ones. If they are indeed weak to hold up to tests then the least likely ones will be eliminated sooner rather than later.
The seventh and the final step is review the key conditions in light of our test results to reach a final decision. After reviewing the test results, the possibility with the least barriers must be chosen.
Applying creativity to a scientifically rigorous process enables team to generate novel strategies and to pinpoint the one most likely to succeed. This approach requires fundamental mind shifts from “what should we do” to “what might we do”, from “what do I believe” to “what would I have to believe” and finally from “what is the right answer” to “what are the right questions”. A team’s ability to inquire is a key to being successful in this possibilities based approach.