One of the key questions we get asked a lot by executives is ‘how can we be imaginative and explore new areas whilst maintaining the day to day’? Create an accelerator I hear you say, create a separate unit, give time to teams to dream!
These are all very worthy responses but before focusing on solutions lets stand back and look at some (not an exhaustive list) of the conflicts and seeming contradictions affecting the ability of a firm to become more imaginative- it is these ‘need to be’ conflicts that should be considered by the leadership of any firm:
- We need to execute big and small
- We need to be systematic and chaotic
- We need to act professional and amateur
- We need to be grown up and childlike
- We need to be logical and imaginative
- We need to be ‘in the now’ and also ‘on the then’
- We need to be ‘on the business’ and ‘in the business’
- We need to act fast and slow
- We need to be visionary and grounded
Designing for imagination (remembering that imagination is the beating heart of inspiration, innovation and breakthrough insights) therefore is fundamentally about the conscious definition and solution of inherent ‘need to’ conflicts affecting your firm. The growth of start up driven innovation for example (like our good friends in Red Planet) is actually a solution response to a ‘need to’ conflict affecting many firms today. The beauty of defining these need to’s as conflicts is that it enables us to start solving them through the lens of time (when do we need these opposing requirements), space (where do we need these opposing requirements) and condition (under what conditions do we need these opposing requirements). But that as they say is another day’s story…….
What are the inherent contradictions impacting the ability to truly imagine in your firm? And how are you solving them?