Strategy as a Load of Bull


BullTheory is, by definition, a simplification of reality. A useful theory is parsimonious in that it reflects the most important details of the context and allows for reasonably accurate predictions (see a review of Weick and Thorngate’s discussion here).  In a similar fashion, strategy frameworks and tools are simplifications designed to guide decision-makers. Ultimately, the question is, what are the essential elements of the problem that must be analyzed? This is what a simplified framework is designed to capture. Ignacio Canales has designed a class exercise that brings this to the forefront and makes a great introduction to the topic before diving into individual frameworks. With no warning, he asks the class to take out a piece of paper and draw a bull. He then invites them to post their pictures in the front of the class and pick the best drawing. The debrief focuses on what are the essential elements needed for the drawing to clearly be a bull? He then introduces Picasso’s study of a bull and how this is used in Apple’s training to focus designers on the most essential elements. Here is a more detailed description of the exercise and here are some slides of the Picasso art.

Contributed by Ignacio Canales

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