Connecting the dots: Abstract thinking in Strategy Development

By February 22, 2013November 29th, 2020No Comments

Recognising that the formal college program was not giving him the return for his parents investment…he dropped out, sharing dorms with friends and earning money making and selling sandwiches, no not iSandwiches.

…but then he dropped right back in, to a program of his own design.

Not one that was carefully crafted to produce an executive that would build a company with a revenue bigger than every listed company of four European countries, but one that inspired him.

Unfortunately, the concept of connecting the dots behind you is not one that drives leadership development in traditional organisations. In fact, modern executives can become the corporate equivalent to the Tom Hanks in Castaway,  professionally stranded inside their own organisation.

Even sadder is the circumstance where organisations do support more lateral experiences, but fail to transfer the value by allowing any spark of innovation or design to be drowned out by the relentless bulldozer of the status quo.

Blooms taxonomy is a well know educational concept that describes a hierarchy of learning sophistication. The pinnacle of sophistication, according to Bloom, is the ability to create abstract concepts, frameworks and principles that can be applied to completely different circumstances to produce greater value. This concept is central to Jobs’ experience and its eventual application in the Mac and PC (as Jobs cheekily points out).

So, if you do manage to invest time in a connecting-the-dots experience here’s a few key points to shape your approach:

  1. Take the time to distill the abstract concepts and translate them into principles you think can apply to business,
  2. Be patient for your reward,
  3. Wear a lens that looks for opportunities to apply your learning (not for reason why it wouldn’t work),
  4. Play and prototype your ideas into tangible examples that sponsors can understand and plan for success,
  5. Breathe energy into your ideas and enrol others,
  6. Tell your story.

Go on Wilson, get out there and connect the dots.