Why Scientists Struggle With Strategy
Read in 3 min. Henry Ford sold the Model T in 'Any colour you like as long as it's black', with the slogan 'It gets you there and it brings you back.' He sold 15 million. This was in a market devoid of choice - where marketing could be treated as science - price and sales marching in unison. In a competitive market, however, strategy follows the principles of design, not science.
A Consultant from
Cape Town, South Africa
Sid is available for projects both virtually and in-person.
Finding the square root of 1750 is quite difficult without a calculator, but you can solve it. There is a specific answer. These types of problems are referred to as 'tame' problems, even though solving them can be complex. The traditional pattern of thinking that we tend to follow with tame problems gives us what the software industry has dubbed a Waterfall Model:
From Conklin J
However, marketing strategy despises this linear approach. So it is not uncommon for scientific institutions to develop a strategic plan over a year, as if more time will give the eventual 'correct answer'. Using the Waterfall approach is a linear method - although a useful template to employ for the presentation of your 'story' - it does not suit marketing strategy construction.
In a study done at the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation, a group of designers (of integrated circuits) was asked to solve a complex elevator problem. Suffice to say - the Waterfall did not feature at all in the process - these designers began early on with possible solutions, and the step of understanding the problem persisted close to the very end.
From Conklin J
Being 'all over the place', is not a sign of defective thinking, but rather the core of a creative problem-solving process. These types of complex problems (which are the opposite of 'tame'), are referred to as 'wicked'. This term was coined by Horst Rittel, who proposed a number of characteristics for these problems, such as having no 'stopping rule': The problem-solving process ends when you run out of resources, such as time, money or energy - not when the 'right' answer emerges.
And not being 'right' is very difficult for someone dedicated to the discovery of truth, such as our scientists.
So, here are some handy tips for constructing marketing strategies:
1. There is no right answer, although some are more elegant than others.
2. You actually have to develop a solution to understand the problem.
3. Every strategy is essentially unique (so if you took a year to do the first one, rather get someone else to help you, you are probably more skilled at other things).
4. The market is dynamic: you, as well as your competitors, are disturbing the market. Things change. Understanding and responding becomes more important than being correct.
5. Father Christmas and 'having all the data' are what children believe in. The best way to complete a strategy is to decide on your completion date. The only person who had all the data took six days to build the earth, and - as I am not perfect in every sense - what better example could you follow?
1. Larisma R. The wicked nature of strategy. Biszommunity.com, 20 Oct 2006.
2. Conklin J. Wicked Problems and Social Complexity. Dialogue Mapping: Building shared understanding of wicked problems. Chapter 1. John Wiley & Sons.
3. Liedtka J. Strategy as design. Rotman Management. Winter 2004, p12 - 15.
Your thoughts matter - more than you can imagine.
More Articles by Sid 5 Free | Ad-Free | Full-Text Business Papers
Sales - GeneralMost people really believe that smoking causes lung cancer. No one wants lung cancer, but people still smoke. When we sign up for the gym, we sincerely ...
EntrepreneurialVisit the business section of your bookstore, and you are left with the distinct impression that improbable entrepreneurial success is achieved by people ...
Sales - GeneralIn lean manufacturing lingo, Muda is a traditional Japanese term for activity that doesn't add value - is wasteful. Here are the seven muda as they relate to new business pitching.
Presentation SkillsThe OJ trial was weird. Although I don't have any of the specifics, I do know that DNA can't jump and that if you're innocent you don't go driving away ...
Sales - GeneralWhen we accept the challenge of a new pitch, we stand the chance of getting it wrong. But it's not the getting it right or wrong that's important, it's ...
More 'Strategy' Articles
1 more Article that may interest you, too...
An organization is much more likely to improve its current performance and underlying health by using a combination of complementary practices rather than any one of them alone, according to new McKinsey research.