Understanding via Examples

During the strategy-development process, it’s important to present scenarios and even proofs-of-concept that can embody opportuni­ties in visual and visceral ways so that business leaders can understand and envision what they might be like. Here, too, designers and other developers can play an important role. While these examples are strictly prototypes (since they don’t actually work), they may be rigged to look quite real and work in limited ways, mimicking the key behaviors that would make them successful if created. In the development of services, it’s common to show the artifacts of the service through different points in the pro­cess, even if these are simple screens or paper output (such as a receipt showing a purchase or other transaction). Because services are so intangible in comparison with products, this is sometimes the only way to help leaders and managers envision an innovation, especially the more literally minded of them.

… it’s important to present scenarios and even proofs-of-concept that can embody opportunities in a visual and visceral way so that business leaders can understand and envision what they might be like.

Sustainability principles and criteria need to be inserted into the research component dur­ing strategic analysis. Specifically, these con­texts need to be actively investigated—often, in order to be seen at all. It needs to be part of the investigation into market contexts (such as competitive and industry research), cus­tomer contexts (actions, behaviors, needs, and desires), and operational contexts within the organization (technologies, capabilities, effi­ciencies, and so on).

Part of the Vision

Lastly, sustainability is strongest when it is part of the vision and mission of an organiza­tion. This might require a reexamination of the purpose of an organization and a conversa­tion with all relevant stakeholders, including investors, owners, and employees. It’s true that sustainable strategies are often driven by moti­vated leaders, but even the most forceful leaders can’t drive these values alone. They will need to communicate effectively and seek out key people within (and sometimes outside of) the organization who can help communicate and enact these values throughout the corporation.