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Outdoing Yourself


Leadership, Engagement, Strategy, Design Thinking, Teams

The goal of this activity is to help participants let go of their attachment to strategic paradigms and shed light on organizational weaknesses that are difficult to admit. The central process of this application includes imagining what it would be like to wear your rival organization’s hat. To do so, this approach has adapted psychological methods including (1) Perspective Taking by assuming the view of a successful competitor, (2) Presentational Knowing in the form of giving a speech about their success, (3) Improvisation in which participants engage with each speech, (4) Mindful Savoring Practice in which participants enjoy what it is ‘like’ to be successful, and (5) Generative Scribing that captures the flow and key strategies behind their success.

Outdoing Yourself
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Created by:

Bill Brendel, Israa Samarin, Farhan Sadique

Penn State University

February 13, 2022 at 12:51:40 PM


To cite the authors:

Use this APA Template::
Last Name, First Initial, (Year, Month Date). Title of post. OpenSourceOD.

Alqahtani, M.A. & Risch, T. (2022, March 26). Winning top talent. OpenSourceOD.

Shifting Attention

Each member of the group takes the perspective of the CEO of a rival organization that is competing with their actual organization. Members are invited to close their eyes and position themselves in this brand-new context and are asked to brainstorm something that the competitor organization can do to thrive in the market. A variety of different actions, plans, and strategies might come into mind as they assume the competitor’s perspective. Imagining themselves in the role of the CEO, each member takes a turn giving an impromptu speech to the group about how they will beat their competitor. Members of the group then utilize improvisation to discuss what the “CEO” has suggested.

Expanding Awareness

Participants imagine being successful in their endeavors as a rival organization and are guided in expanding their sense of what it feels like now that they have outperformed (themselves). Participants are guided in savoring these feelings, including those we associate with deep satisfaction.

Receiving Insights

Next, participants are asked to sense into the strategies that made their imagined organization successful and allow the ideas to ‘float around.’ Participants are then asked to write a one-paragraph victory speech to present at the year-end gala-event. It should include a detailed account of the organization’s success including specific steps they took to exploit the weaknesses of their (actual) organization.

Applying Discoveries

Finally, participants are invited to start putting their thoughts into action. Participants will take turns to deliver their speech, while others in the room can analyze and group ideas into different categories. Next, participants are asked to go to the board and circle one competitive strategy that is deserving of their organization’s time and resources. After everyone has identified their strategy, participants discuss and debate why one strategy is more important than the other.

How you can improve this solution

There wasn't much to improve on this one. We think that if you decide to try this out you might look at incorporating a fishbowl aspect, or even record the session and have participants re-watch themselves and facilitate additional analysis. Pay attention to the common words and phrases that come up in the "Applying" phase.

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