According to designer/strategist Roger Martin, a strategy is an imagined possibility with which we ask the question “What has to be true for this possibility to become real?”
In this episode IDEO U’s Creative Confidence podcast, Roger talks about how that approach helped unlock Bianca Andreescu’s success at the Grand Slam singles championship in 2019.
One of the fascinating things about this approach is that it acknowledges the need for system-wide changes. By asking “What has to be true?”, a strategist must consider all of the conditions of a system that should shift to make the imagined possibility a reality. Of course, most approaches to strategy do require some appreciation of the state of the strategic environment (e.g., the five forces model). None, however, emphasize the need to guarantee these systemic conditions quite as explicitly as asking “What must be true?”
It was mindblowing. It was absolutely incredible. The way that you could just do stuff that wasn’t really possible [on a computer]. Again, it was technically possible on a computer, but the user interface and experience was just transformative on the iPad. It was absolutely incredible.
And Jobs knew it. It’s one of my all-time favourites Jobs moments. It’s like fifteen seconds after the demo, and it’s just like… he’s used this. He was involved in the creation of it. They had run through the demo. He knew it. And even then, he was just astonished. He’s just like ‘I can’t believe [this]…’
It was, to my mind, the culmination of his life’s work. He comes on there, and he’s like, ‘Isn’t it incredible? Now anyone can make music.’
I almost want to transcribe this whole episode. John Gruber and Ben Thompson discuss the potential of the iPad—and its failure to reach it.
Ben uses the term “transformative” deliberately above. They discuss how, before the iPad, no computing experience could adapt to become wholly new tools and environments for whatever the user wanted to do. But the iPad can become a piano or a canvas or a television. In this sense, they argue that the iPad has (or had) the potential for disruptive innovation (RIP Clay Christensen)—but it’s not supposed to be a Mac.
These two think the iPad’s lost the chance to fulfill that potential, mostly because Apple has missed the opportunity to build a vibrant developer ecosystem due to App Store policies. I hope that isn’t the case, though I think we have to look beyond the iPad to fully appreciate what might happen next. The introduction of tablets and transformative computing experiences continues to echo throughout a variety of industries. Graphic designers and illustrators have a new suite of tools to directly interact with their creations in the iPad Pro and the Surface. Similarly, tablet or hybrid devices have transformed schools—schoolchildren now have a “homework” device for all kinds of assignments. It’s true that we still need developers to imagine ever-more revolutionary applications for these devices, but there’s no denying that disruption is taking root.
Either way, the episode is well worth a listen. Enjoy from 15:50 to ~31:22 and 1:26:59 to the end of the show if you want to focus on the iPad discussion.
The ever-refreshing Paul Jarvis shares some uncommon thoughts on productivity in Jocelyn K. Glei’s Hurry Slowly podcast.
In particular, Paul and Jocelyn discuss the importance of resilience. Citing research and his own experience, Paul points out that resilience is a more important factor in success than many others.
Obviously, though, enabling resilience is not as easy as simply pointing out how important it is. As they discuss, resilience isn’t something innate—which means that it can only be developed through experience. And this is where things get tricky: who gets to have resilience-building experiences?
In my research on innovation skills, I discovered that resilience was one of three key domains that wasn’t an important outcome for our public education systems. This means that resilience training isn’t necessarily a public good. Only if you’re lucky (or privileged) will you have the chance to build up your resilience muscle.
Memorial University of Newfoundlandfulcra.design
Helping changemakers change their worlds through systemic design and with innovation, leadership, and changemaking education.