13. October 2022

Six Practices to Elevate Strategy to a Way of Life

To make a transformation successful, it takes more than a well-thought-out strategy. I like Ikujiro Nonaka’s and Hirotaka Takeuchi’s article in the MIT Sloan Managemt Review which argues that for a company’s strategy to succeed in a complex, rapidly changing world, it must be rooted in moral purpose. Strategy should be driven by both the “brains” and the “soul” of a company.

Latest neuroscientific research shows that the purpose of humans (and therefore organizations) is rooted in our universal tendencies to relate to and care for others, our adaptability, and our ability to imagine a better world together. This drive to act in ways that are good and right, and the guiding principles for this can be defined as the “soul” part. Companies can imagine what kind of future they wish to create and then use their brains to make it happen. 

How to use both brains and soul on a daily basis? By doing ordinary things a little better every day, such as working hard, making ethical decisions, being kind, self-reflecting, and practicing self-discipline. This builds culture and character. They suggest 6 practises on a daily basis for building better lives and futures:

  1. Cope with Complexity.
    Tap not only the different perspectives and sources of expertise, but also your own diverse skills. Tap into both analytical and intuitive thinking.

  2. Adapt to change.
    Being adaptable means being humble. Overconfidence is the one thing that gets in the way of continued success, relevance and impact. Also, give preference to innovations that are connected to meaning and soul. The best work comes when you know it’s not just work. Nadella has used this to transform Microsoft.

  3. Embrace the dynamic duality.
    There is explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge, which is more intuitive and gained from personal experience. These two forms of knowledge should interact with each other. Accept contradictions and paradoxes. Toyota uses a lot of them: it moves a little at a time, but makes big leaps now and then.

  4. Empathize with Everyone.
    Social connection is the key to solving complex problems. The root of connection is empathy. Understanding others’ perspectives and cultivating compassion is essential. Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai, for example, asks all its employees to spend a few days a year with patients in healthcare facilities.

  5. Tell stories.
    Stories help to convey beliefs and ideals and to imagine a different future. When faced with the rapid shift from analogue to digital film, Fujifilm used the quote “The owl of Minerva spreads its wings at the dawn of a new age.” This is to symbolise how knowledge can take us into the future.

  6. Living with nature.
    When we value living with nature, we care for the environment and thus preserve our livelihoods. The Shinto priests at the Great Shrine of Ise have rebuilt the shrine every 20 years for the past 1300 years – an act of renewal that honours the cyclical quality of nature.


How do you balance Brains vs. Soul?

The Power of Co-Elevation

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