– Thoughts on Strategy and Management

The impact of creativity and imagination on strategy formation


As discussed in the previous posts strategic discourses support organizations in ambiguous situations. Creativity and imagination might have an impact on strategy formation as well. HURST, RUSH and WHITE (1989) criticize the emphasis of analytical thinking, rationality and objectivity and present a contrast model with the four attributes intuition, emotion, thinking and feeling. STRONG (2005) confirms this, since he highlights specific attributes of strategic planning. According to him “Strategic” implies process, creative thinking, teamwork and flexibility.

MINTZBERG (2000) criticizes the assumed equation between strategic planning and strategic thinking and describes different fallacies in terms of predetermination, detachment and formalization. He argues that the development of strategies “…requires insight, creativity, and synthesis, the very things that the formalization of planning discourages”.

HAMEL and PRAHALAD (1995) establish a border between an analytical, reproductive understanding of strategy formation; instead they employ the terms “imagination” and “foresight” and recommend focusing on the creation of new business segments and new value creation systems. LINDA, ROSS and VICTOR (2001) argue that “imagination is the capacity to form mental presentations, motivated by our emotional responses to the word surrounding us…”. ROSS and BART (1998) see three meanings for the term imagination. A representational imagination seeks, identifies and defines frames and regularities; hence it manages and reduces environmental complexity. A productive imagination develops new and original opportunities through a combination, recombination or transformation of things or concepts. Existing ideas and concept represent the raw material in order to develop new ideas. In this perspective productive imagination is creative imagination.

The parodic imagination contains a deconstruction of what one perceives as the real world. It negates and reconstructs existing ideas and constructs by breaking rules and borderlines, it defames, contradicts, and destroys the clarity generated by representation. This type of imagination is closely related, but not equal to creativity. It is distinct from fantasy, too. LECHNER and MÜLLER-STEWENS (1999) argue that the parodic imagination has the largest potential to form a new strategy.

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