On February 2, 2017 I posted A visual definition of strategy and it has by far become one of the most viewed articles on my blog. I've written 450+ pieces in the 2 years that I've been writing regularly and nothing has come close to this one.
The post consists of five pictures and no words.
The particular week that this article was prepared was especially busy and I was short on time. I had been working heavily on a proposal and did not have the usual time to devote to a thoughtful piece. I had been toying previously with the idea that I would do a post that contained mostly images.
From my architecture school days, I remembered doing a particular creativity exercise where one compares and contrasts two random images that were projected side by side on the wall. Once the images were next two each other, the class would look for commonalities, any synchronicity, and generally enjoy the randomness. The intent was to discover linkages between the two images.
For example, one picture might contain the curved colonnade of a building in Rome, and the other leaves on the ground during the fall season. Then a discussion would take place about what people observed: The pile of leaves had a gentle curve; the way the sun hit the colonnade looked the same shade as some of the leaves; a few of the broken leaves resembled the crumbling building facade in the corner of the Roman picture; the scattered leaves were a stark contrast to the ordered columns in the colonnade. Talk usually went on like this for a few minutes, and then you'd move to the next pair of slides.
This exercise made an impression on me and I've always wanted to recreate it somehow in a blog post. So, there I was short on time and running out of time to post something and I decided to do a quick search of images of strategy in order to find inspiration or generate ideas. I looked at the search results, hoping that something would spark an idea for my blog post that I needed to finish in the next ten minutes, and I thought why don't I just post a series of pictures that collectively define strategy?
I quickly found five pictures that not only stood up well on their own, but together represented the various facets of the word strategy. I'm not sure that the images offer the best definition of the word, but they at least present a different way of looking at it.
Maybe that's what is continuing to draw people in.
What was the definitive factor in figuring out this post? The willingness to try something new and explore a new format or structure. All the time in the world and a sketchbook full of ideas won't help if you aren't able to make the first step into the unknown.