What happens when we disrupt the Strategic Thinking Process?
As Americans, we are taught to think and solve problems using logic. Using our left brain. While American business and the general population tend to put the very best creative thinking and right-brain thinkers on a pedestal, in day-to-day action, right-brain thinking is usually discouraged and looked upon as unproductive.
And yet, each of us has witnessed the power of right-brain thinking. The ‘ah-ha’ moment in the shower. The lightening bolt idea that defies conventional thinking. The one creative thought that trumps a hundred logical approaches.
But tapping into the right brain is, for many of us, a mysterious, hit-and-miss proposition. We’ve all faced, “I’m just not that creative, today,” or “I have writer’s block.”
What if there was a tool that could, on-demand, unlock the power of right-brain thinking. A tool that could tap the creative strength that rests in every single one of us. A tool, that could help us solve the biggest and smallest challenges we face.
Now, that tool exists….
There it is: The mental block. In individuals, it can become a creative barrier and a wall dividing us from inspiration and intuition. But what happens when the block occurs within a corporate environment? How can businesses maneuver around creative roadblocks and harness the intuitive thoughts and ideas buried within its professionals who constitute the corporate framework?
Bill Donius brings his Thought Revolution into the board rooms of the corporate world with what he says is the intention of, “going beyond the proverbial box to disrupt the traditional the brain storm.”
“I’ve spent 30 years in corporate America, I believe what’s missing are the insights from the right brain,” says Donius. “It seems that the typical tools available for mining intuition and innovation are brainstorming sessions and SWOT analyses. Both are good, but they basically produce more of the same traditional thought processes.
The SWOT process is the current, reining paradigm for how people use strategic planning in America. Participants are asked to identify a corporation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats while sometimes being admonished to ’think outside the box’ while analyzing these issues during the brainstorming session. After 50 years of usage, the SWOT process has essentially become the box.”
Donius explains his philosophy of strategic planning revolves around the principles of “strategic democratization”, remodeling hierarchies and disrupting the typical brain storm. This process can lead to transformational results in corporations.
It was the summer of 2010 when Matt Matthews, CEO of Crown Vision, invited Donius to plan his corporation’s yearly strategic planning session. The plan was to include the usual top six or seven executives sitting around and repeating an annual review and strategic review process. Bill had other plans.
“I suggested that they break from their traditional process by inviting more minds to the table. Rather than just the top people in the pyramid, I suggested they include every manager in the company, all 44 people within the company’s leadership. Ironically, the top layer of a company is typically both figuratively and literally the farthest from the customer with the least amount of direct customer contact.
By incorporating, physicians, nurses, mid-level personnel, managers and even assistant managers into the strategic planning process, you’re building a more democratic thought process into the company that can better point to a more complete range of responses as to where the business is going, where improvement is needed, where is it succeeding and failing and what new directions may be available to the company.”
For Crown Vision, this new form of democratic strategy brought the top executives together with surgeons, CRNAs, specialized nurses and retail store managers. Donius walked the group of 44 through his process of analyzing the company by answering strategically significant questions with both their dominant and non-dominant hands. The non-dominant hand is the neural pathway or super highway to the right hemisphere. Why go there? The right hemisphere is known as the place where creativity, intuition and innovation exist. The results, he says, was a turbo charged thinking and idea generating session.
“The process will be enriched when you incorporate more viewpoints,” he says. “However the real secret weapon is including the right brain of the participants in the process. When you access the subconscious of the right brain, you’re reaping the benefits of all that resides there that typically we don’t access because we’re traversing along a different path, one dominated by the left brain (the linear, logical, analytical place). Integrating the right brain into the strategic thinking process is a blend of both worlds, analytical as well as creative thinking.”
Donius also believes in fostering this “strategic democracy” by allowing participants to ‘vote with their feet’ by gravitating toward the ideas that really resonate with them once all the ideas and insights of both the left and right brains are flushed out.
“What I really like about this concept is that it allows everyone involved to visually spot where the big, popular ideas are by watching where participants congregate. By applying the Open Space concept to this process, great ideas are identified by all who have the ability to express their vote.”
This event can fundamentally disrupt and thereafter remodel the traditional corporate hierarchy by giving junior employees a voice in the strategic process, allowing their insights and creativity a place at the table and even their subsequent leadership as topic champions in the company.
For example, in the case of Crown Vision the winning idea the winning idea in their strategy session did not come from a top exec but from an assistant manager at a retail store. She was one of the youngest in the room and held the least amount of corporate clout, yet it was her right brain idea of making Crown Vision ‘the coolest’ in the eye wear and vision care space that gained attention in the session and went on to become one of seven ideas that transformed the entire company by raising the average sale 20%, raising retention rates and lowering turnover in the company.
“This process really brings a grassroots process to what is often an autocratic management culture in the U.S.,” Donius says. “No longer does a management team have to carry the weight of the future of the company on seven or eight backs. It’s basic math: 44 people innovating will produce a better result than involving just 6 to 12 people in the strategy process.”
Crown Vision was so pleased with the results they asked Donius to take this process further down the pyramid to the next 180 employees in the company.
“This allows the company to be on the same page and under the same tent, using the same language. From both of those sessions seven ideas were brought up and were ultimately weaved into the overarching goals of the organization.”
The world is becoming more globalized and the economic waters are red with competition leading many thinkers and entrepreneurs to call for more creativity, innovation and intuition in American businesses in order to face the obstacles of this tougher landscape. Donius believes that the “HOW” is the big question mark in this equation.
“The How is really How to Think Differently,” he says. “It is difficult to quantify and qualify an ethos of a company but when you tap into the entire consciousness of a company and it’s members then that ethos literally bleeds out onto the page. You see who that company is, what the problems are, the opportunities and it becomes a language of intuition. In an interconnected world we all need to find innovative solutions faster, that’s exactly what this process does. It blends the conventional and the inspirational and it can produce a transformational result for your business.
Over the past years, I’ve worked with both small, medium sized and more recently a global company, this process is indeed not only different, but effective at producing innovative solutions and strategies”
Find our how to retain Bill as a business and corporate strategist: