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?”
And so the Swedish gender equality initiative team began to explore whet her snow clearing was sexist. Sure enough, they found the routine of clearing snow typically benefited men over women. In the winter, snow was cleared first on main roads leading into the city, benefiting commuters—who were mostly men. Foot- and cycle-paths were cleared last—not so good for pedestrians and cyclists, who were very often women traveling with children in pushchairs.
There was a cost to all this: 79% of pedestrian injuries occurred in winter, of which 69% were women. The estimated cost of these falls was SKr36m per winter, about USD$3.7m / £3m / €3.4m / Indian ₹279m. By clearing paths first, accidents decreased by half and saved the local government money.
Great action-based response to a stupid remark (“At least snow-clearing was something those ‘gender people’ can keep their noses out of,” someone had said, prompting this investigation).
Memorial University of Newfoundlandfulcra.design
Helping changemakers change their worlds through systemic design and with innovation, leadership, and changemaking education.