The Majority Of Strategists Are Rational Thinkers And That’s A Problem.

A bit over a year ago, I created a little quiz entitled “What Type Of Strategist Are you?” which based on 3 simple questions allowed you to identify if you were a “Rational Thinker”, a “Conceptual Master”, an “Empathetic Strategist” or a “Creative Strategist” based on whether you are more data or guts driven and whether your thinking style is more deliberate versus more spontaneous. More information about the 4 types can be found here. You can take the quiz for yourself at the end of this post.

Since it was launched, 4800 people have taken the quiz. Playbuzz unfortunately doesn’t provide specific data on the users but it’s fair to assume that only “strategic minded” people would be interested in this type of test. The high completion rate (93%) seems to support that.

What really surprised me was the fact that the majority of quiz-takers, or 52.7% of all respondents, fell in “Rational Thinker” group whereas each of the other group as represented by only ca. 15% of all respondents. Is the “strategy community” really primarily made out of rational thinkers?

Being a rational thinker as such is not a bad thing. This type of thinking is actually needed to run a business smoothly. But I also believe, and know from experience, that diversity of thinking styles within a group (a team or a department or a community) leads to better, more creative and innovative results. And I believe that truly innovative thinking, truly break-through ideas, are more likely to come from one of the other three thinking styles. Rational thinking in fact is great for Red Ocean planning whereas the other thinking styles might be better suited for Blue Ocean type thinking.

So what can you do about it?

At a group level, you can have your team take the quiz to see what type of thinker each team member is and to see whether there is a pre-dominant “thinking style” within your team. If yes, either try to expand the type of thinkers you hire as you grow your team or help your team members evolve and become more flexible in the way they solve business problems.

Taking a group perspective in addition to one focused on individuals will also naturally lead to a higher level of diversity as explained by Rory Sutherland in his article for the “Spectator” entitled “Want more diversity? Hire groups, not individuals.”

At an individual level, it is a bit more challenging. In fact we tend to fall back on our proven thinking patterns especially when under pressure. However, there is value in training oneself to “switch” within those thinking styles based on the type of business problem you are trying to solve. I’ve provided some tips on how to do this in another blog entry entitled “7-ways-to-improve-your-creative-problem-solving-skills” (also published on the Huffpost).

Another way to ease yourself and your team into different thinking styles is to use a tool such as Positioning-Roulette, which based the analysis of over 1200 case studies of effective marketing identifies the 26 universal and proven successful principles of effective brand positioning and brand storytelling. These 26 triggers naturally fall into these 4 different thinking styles and invite the user to shift his or her perspective on the problem to be solved.

Amazon Prime users in the US can also benefit of a 25% discount until tomorrow. Readers from outside the US can still get the flashcards here.

Take the quiz below and let us know in the comments section what type of strategic thinker you are.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.