Widening Your Strategic Aperture

 

Do your strategy conversations feel constrained or lacking in creative options? It may be time to expand the aperture of your strategic discussions.

Let me explain. Neuroscientist Min Jung shared in a recent podcast that to come up with creative ideas, our brains need time to enter the default state. This occurs when we are not relentlessly focused on productive, external tasks. We need unstructured moments when our minds can wander and make connections across observations and influences. For example, on Sunday mornings, when I’m sipping my coffee and reading The New York Times, my brain is actively firing, connecting disparate thoughts in novel ways. This is the power of widening our aperture.

Expanding the Aperture in Strategic Discussions

But too often, during corporate strategy conversations, the aperture narrows. We get stuck in conventional thinking about our products, pricing, distribution channels, and more. Consider this: In many companies, it’s not OK to talk about changing your basis for pricing. I recently gave a talk at a law firm and asked a simple provocation: “Would you be open to changing your pricing?” The discussion quickly jumped to thinking the new price would be too high or too low. Participants switched into defense mode, not wanting to give anything away for free. Does the same thing happen in your company? Is pricing included in the aperture of your strategic conversations?

What else might be left out of the aperture of your strategy discussions?

Using the Outthinker Process

When it comes to strategic discussions, the aperture we allow can significantly impact our innovation potential. In our 4th Option coaching network, we emphasize the need to expand this aperture through the Outthinker IDEAS Process, which stands for Imagine, Dissect, Expand, Analyze, and Sell. Each stage of the process is designed to broaden our perspective, but it’s in the Expand stage when we explore 9Ps of business models to generate a wide range of strategic options.

The 9Ps offer a structure to generate ideas across dimensions: product, positioning, placement, promotion, pricing, physical experience, processes, people, and purpose. This holistic approach encourages the surfacing of unconventional ideas, fostering an environment where even “crazy” ideas can be considered. The key is leaving space for those ideas to emerge before analyzing or judging them.

Learning from Peers

We also explore these dimensions in conversations with Outthinker Networks strategy and innovation executive members. Recently, one of our members, the Chief Strategy Officer of a museum, held a peer challenge forum to discuss new ways to think about pricing beyond traditional memberships. Perspectives from cross-industry strategy leaders allowed him to gain insights outside his domain, such as exploring real estate revenue and retail partnerships.

Keeping the Aperture Wide

When things in your company are going well, your aperture narrows. When things are going poorly, your aperture broadens to look for new solutions. The trick is to keep your aperture wide even when things are going well. The IDEAS process can help you expand your thinking. New language from other industries can open your aperture. Building a diverse network of connections and influences can open it, too.

Don’t let your strategic conversations be confined by tunnel vision. As you navigate your strategic journey, continually ask yourself: What is the aperture of my strategic conversations, and how can I expand it?

Broaden your aperture to visualize new paths to game-changing ideas.

Outthinker Networks is a global peer group of heads of strategy, innovation, and transformation at $1B+ companies who are determined to move their organizations to the next level. Members engage in curated learning, practical conversations, and networking opportunities to be more successful in performing their roles, solving their top challenges, and keeping their organizations ahead of the pace of disruption.

Authors

Kaihan Krippendorff
Kaihan KrippendorffFounder & CEO - Outthinker Networks
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Cori Dombroski
Cori DombroskiContent Director - Outthinker Networks
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