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24. Apr 2024

Radical creativity and new narratives: Why we should rethink strategy work

by Kristina Bonitz
Radikale Kreativität lässt neue Visionen erblühen.

We are currently facing the greatest challenge in our history: the ongoing destruction of our livelihoods. According to scientists, 2023 will go down in history as the year in which we humans revealed our inability to cope with the climate crisis. And in the meantime, we continue to pay lip service to the problem and desperately try to preserve as much of the old as possible.

However, humanity's greatest transformation task cannot be solved by good intentions alone, a little common sense, lots of guidelines, rules and the minimum steps required - sorry, to bring this down to you.

But there is also good news: if we manage to change our perspective and step out of crisis mode for a moment, we can realize that we have a historic opportunity to join forces to address a radical and beautiful question: How do we actually want to live (over)?

Because nothing less is currently at stake. And the strategic responses to this have so far been surprisingly sober, reserved, boring and uninspired.

What if sustainable management was not a dwindling version of the present, but an opportunity for a more innovative, more conscious, perhaps even happier tomorrow? If at the end of the transformation there is no loss, but the gain of a better version of ourselves, the organizations in which we work and the economy in which we create value? And we would live and implement this change with enthusiastic consistency instead of fleeing into resignation with "we have to", flimsy excuses and 100-page strategy papers that quickly disappear back into the drawer?

What we need now is a new understanding of strategy. Because we will not be able to answer these complex and fundamental questions and challenges with technological innovations, key figures, optimized processes and correct reporting alone. We will not succeed in sustainably changing companies and the economy at its core and making them resilient in volatile times with rational strategy tools alone.
This will require the collective will, motivation and courage of us all - and new solutions are needed to fuel this:

Radical transformation and consistency - get to the roots

We will not be able to manage our way through the sustainability crisis by trying to administer it sensibly and expecting as little change as possible. We can only confront it with radical consistency in change. So instead of allowing ourselves to be paralyzed by nostalgia, uncertainty, doubt and pettiness, we should actively shape and learn to love profound change. Because then our energy would be focused on getting things done instead of struggling. And breaking and questioning conventions and systems becomes the default.
Because it's not just about minimizing damage, but actively contributing to positive change and shaping regenerative processes. At its core, this means giving more than we take.
Let's radically rethink things, question existing norms, systems and structures and have the courage to let go of the old and the familiar. Let's redesign the way we define business and success and see them as pieces that we can take apart and reassemble. Because everything can be shaped and changed - including the target system. So, instead of spending our time on superficial cosmetic repairs, we should dare to consistently redesign the backend of our economy and society.

Unleashing creativity - from renunciation to imagination

Strategy work currently often consists of trying to derive a future from the past and then outlining ways to get there with as little effort and change as possible. But to solve the challenges of our time, we need more creative fire. We urgently need more imagination and more innovative and lively ideas when it comes to sustainability. Because while guidelines and reporting are important, they also inhibit our creativity and playfulness and will not solve our sustainability challenges on their own.
Let's embrace the moment as an opportunity to paint outside the box, push boundaries and create the unprecedented. Radical creativity as a creative force, as an engine for innovation. From problem to potential. Without letting ourselves be held back by perfectionist obsessions with correctness - because the pressure to always get everything right often prevents us from developing new ideas. It tends to lead to us having less and less confidence in ourselves and being afraid of doing something wrong. Creativity flourishes in an environment of experimentation. Let us understand strategy again as a creative learning process that never ends. To design something new out of longing and hope for the future. Because what we need now, above all, is unbridled creativity in the name of sustainable responsibility.

New narratives for a future worth living

Almost nothing is as powerful as good stories: They change our perspective, influence our actions and thoughts, carry collective beliefs through the world and create identity. Stories have taken us to the moon. They determine how we live and have always been the greatest driver of transformation.
They are the most important tool for seducing people into a sustainable future. Because not everyone will be motivated purely rationally. Otherwise, global climate reports and current environmental disasters would have had an impact long ago.
We need new, fresh narratives that touch people emotionally and whet their appetite for transformation and a sustainable tomorrow. Because let's be honest: how often have you created something great out of a state of fear? If we manage to ignite love and passion for sustainability and transformation - which is inevitably on the horizon - we may get further than we dare to hope for right now.
The future is not something written in stone, it is shaped by the narratives we tell each other. So let's start writing inspiring stories that empower and motivate people to create a sustainable economy within planetary boundaries and actively work towards shaping a future worth living.
Narratives that give us back the courage, the drive, the energy and the joie de vivre that are necessary to bring about change. After all, this feeling rarely arises when reading the latest sustainability reports and corporate strategies. Stories that show us how to take action instead of getting stuck in theoretical discussions. Away from fixating on problems and towards a solution perspective. To have not only an "away from", but also a strong "towards". Let's make sustainable transformation irresistible.

Strategy as a collective act of will

But one thing is clear: as long as we do not understand strategy as a collective act of will and follow-through, we can dispense with all the purpose talk. We need companies that see sustainable management not as a radical risk, but as an opportunity for their own positive impact.
The future is not a distant utopia, but the sum of our decisions. Starting with the next one.

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