Strategic Intuition Exercise
Process Improvement, Strategy, Teams, Org Agility
The underlying goal of this application is to shed light on the insidious nature of mission creep, by demonstrating in real-time how subconscious ego needs often derail the organizational strategy. The practical purpose of this activity is to develop common criteria for strategic initiatives and let go of activities that do not resemble the organization's mission. To do so, this approach has adapted psychological methods including (1) Spontaneous Activity in which participants engage in a rapid process of brain-dumping all strategic initiatives they can think of in the moment, (2) Implicit Association that forces an immediate choice between two strategic initiatives for greater value, (3) Decentering Mindfulness Practice that allows individuals to notice a variety of different thought patterns that made them chose initiatives that they felt a strong attachment to, (4) Storing Objects for Reflection by identifying which of these attachments showed up the most vividly for them, and (5) Rapid Prototyping a set of ‘mission-fit’ criteria or standards for assessing the value of all strategic initiatives.
Bill Brendel, Israa Samarin, Farhan Sadique
Penn State University
February 13, 2022 at 12:46:11 PM
To cite the authors:
First, members of a leadership team are asked to jot down all of the current strategic initiatives and projects being led throughout the organization, with one initiative per notecard. Next, the facilitator guides discussion around the meaning of the organization’s mission to ensure a common understanding. The facilitator instructs all participants that they will be dealt two cards, but rather than thinking they must decide rapidly, which of the two strategic initiatives resonate more closely with the organization’s mission. Two random cards with titles of initiatives are held up simultaneously, and in no more than three seconds, participants must decide on choice A or B, as the one project that is stronger in matching the mission.
After all rounds of the first activity have concluded, participants are guided in a 10-minute decentering (mindfulness) practice, and are encouraged to allow any and all thoughts, images, feelings, and symbols to move freely through their minds.
Because it will likely be difficult for participants to let go of thinking about what they originally intuit from the initial card activity, the goal of the Expanding phase is not to get caught on any single line of reasoning or attachment. Instead, they are instructed to notice and place objects of attention on a “shelf” alongside other insights, for later reflection. Major insights may include realizing how ego-preservation can serve as a primary motivator over the organization’s mission and may go so far as to cripple organizational effectiveness. Participants may also notice, deep down, that an organization’s culture may value strategic initiatives more for their return on investment than for their alignment with the mission, which may lead to market confusion and false equivalency between initiatives.
Finally, each participant is tasked with extemporaneously describing their insights, before working together to establish a collective set of genuine mission-fit criteria, from which all future (proposed) strategic initiatives may be assessed. This list may also allow leaders to organize their resources via strategic criteria rather than segmenting by the department.
How you can improve this solution
There was some apprehension at first, and this may work better with smaller executive teams.