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Are you Spock or Kirk? Choosing your strategy preference

The Management Centre

We’re sure you’re familiar with one or more of the incarnations of the Star Trek film franchise. Two of the characters stand out for their approach to
some of the big issues they need to tackle. And they have very different approaches to strategy.

  • Kirk is famous for leaps of intuition, and ambitious have-a-go action.

Captain Kirk

  • Spock tends to represent the logical approach through rational analysis


It might appear that we’re suggesting all strategy is a simple logical progression – a Spock-type journey from B to A. But let’s be clear there may be
times when you want to try a more Kirk-ish intuitive approach. (Think of how often Kirk’s ‘illogical’ moves outwit the enemy.) Don’t be afraid to explore
both approaches when developing strategy. And remember the main learning from the movies, and even the cult original TV show, is that they are a great
team because they combine both approaches. When you’re considering contributing a strategic idea don’t be afraid to share logic and intuition. But
also notice when you’re in a group what the preference is of the others in the room and be aware of how your preference might impact.

If you’re a fan of the intuitive approach you’ll also find some support for this from one of our favorite management gurus Henry Minztberg. One of his
big ideas is to make a distinction between planning and crafting strategy. The metaphor he uses is that of a potter. A potter, he
says, gets their hands dirty and improvises based on a here and now, building on mental and physical engagement with the work he’s doing.
In the same way he says, it’s impossible to separate the formulation and implementation of strategy – for him it’s a continuous and adaptive process.
When planned strategy meets the real world he talks about emergent strategy. 

Take a minute to think about the two approaches and maybe establish your own preference. Are you a Spock or a Kirk by preference?Spock or Kirk?

OK now you know which you are, make sure you’re aware of the preferences of the others you’re trying to influence. You may need to adapt your preference!

Spock and Kirk - the new boys



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