Strategy Takes The Whole Brain - Not Just The Left

If we define Strategic Thinking as a broad perspective analysis of opportunities and problems, one might assume that this process is solely rooted in striving for operational efficiency and building on past success. Strategy can bring to mind associated words such as logic, analytical, and data indicating this is a process wholly owned by the left brain. However, if the goal of strategic thinking is to win in the marketplace, a good portion of the thought process needs to incorporate creativity.

Creative Thinking in Business

Creative Thinking, as defined by businessdictionary.com, is ‘a way of looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective that suggests unorthodox solutions (which may look unsettling at first). Creative thinking can be stimulated both by an unstructured process such as brainstorming, and by a structured process such as lateral thinking.’ Or by Harvard Business Publications as, ‘the ability to generate fresh alternatives, visualize new possibilities, and formulate novel approaches to getting things done.’
Regardless of how exactly one would like to define it, the important concept to grasp is that one must let go of orthodoxy and question the ‘status quo’, assumptions, and deeply held practices to be able to gain an edge on the competition. This was also reinforced by IBM’s 2010 CEO study which found that creativity is now the most important leadership quality for success in business.

So, here are 4 steps to help you think outside the box in a business strategy session:

1. Challenge Assumptions: this is the process of identifying and dissecting notions that the organization has taken for granted. The purpose is to clear the way for fresh possibilities.

2. Reverse the Situation: change a negative statement to a positive, define what the situation is ‘not’ like and why, and finally, change the vantage point of viewing the situation.

3. Think Visually: if a picture or a symbol is worth a thousand words, try unlocking the creative process by putting ideas into shapes, images, colors, and single words. This may help identify unseen associations and ideas clumped in unique ways.

4. Envision Multiple Scenarios: to avoid potential costly reactionary responses to the marketplace, try envisioning multiple IFTTT or ‘If This Than That’ scenarios in order to anticipate long term trends that will gain your business the edge.

Remember, whole brain thinking isn’t news; however, it is a great reminder that to be a successful leader, the right brain needs to contribute in complex decisions as well.


Sometimes the best way to generate innovations is to force yourself and your team out of your comfort zones.
— Frank Barrett - Professor, Naval Post-Graduate School

Joey Martin

Joey is a diverse and comprehensive business professional with over a decade of experience in corporate development and entrepreneurial enterprises. His expertise lies in strategic thinking to develop, plan, implement, and manage projects to achieve desired SMART business goals. His success in this field has specifically been in leadership development of key personnel, marketing strategy, streamlining of operational efficiency, new product conceptions, and financial management.

Joey's mission is to help small business owners realize their vision by filling the gap between their individual expertise and the skill set they need to succeed. For small businesses, the owner is the hero on a journey to succeed in their vision and they need someone to believe in that vision aiding and guiding them along the way. The owner is Don Quixote, Joey is their Sancho. Whether the goal is grow, pivot, or recover the next step is attainable with skilled, targeted, and customized help.

Joey studied Business Administration at Cardinal Stritch University, has certifications from Harvard Business School, and is continuing on to his master’s degree.