Take this tour of the “10,000 Years of Luxury” exhibition at the Louvre Abu Dhabi and think of a strategic problem you want to solve.
Strategic Thinking and Creativity
One of the skills of strategic thinking is creativity, because, as Mintzberg points out, strategic thinking aims to “discover new and imaginative strategies that can rewrite the rules of competitive play and imagine potential futures significantly. Thus, without creativity, higher levels of strategic thinking are not achieved. The other skills needed for strategic thinking, also according to Mintzberg, are conceptual, systems- and opportunity-oriented, directional thinking (linking the future with the past). In our assessment of strategic thinking with the CNE - Complexity Navigation Evaluation, one of the phases of the challenge we propose is only overcome with great creativity.
Join me on this luxury tour and bring a problem you want to solve. For example, think about the rules of your business game that you would like to rewrite, or the new product or service that might be most successful in your business 3 years from now, or the action plan for achieving a long-term target. Have you decided which strategic decision you would like to solve?
Luxury through the ages
The exhibition “10,000 Years of Luxury” shows how Luxury has been interpreted by various cultures over time. I will only share with you the trends of the last century, as they have been quite varied.
Looking back over the last 100 years, luxury and creativity have changed a lot, depending on technological developments, wars, the need for new artists to assert themselves, or competition between companies.
Strategic Thinking through Art Nouveau
In the early 20th Century, with the growth of industry, the dominant artistic style became Art Nouveau. Architects and designers were inspired by the natural structures of plants and flowers and the curved lines. They used dynamic, undulating, flowing lines at a syncopated rhythm. They thought they were "whip", natural to plants and flowers, and to curved lines. They considered that art should be a way of life and therefore combined the Fine Arts and the Arts applied to utilitarian objects. It was a reaction to nineteenth-century academic art. Although they selected and modernized some of the elements of the rococo style, such as flame and shell textures, they also advocated the use of highly stylized organic forms as a source of inspiration, expanding the "natural" repertoire through the use of algae and insects. They made use of many of the late nineteenth-century technological innovations, especially the utilization of exposed iron and large irregular glass for architecture.
Thinking now about your strategic decision, answer these questions:
- How can the ideas of natural structures, curved and dynamic lines, syncopated rhythm inspire you?
- And the application of Fine Arts to utilitarian objects and the expansion of the repertoire?
- And how can the use of technological innovations contribute to your strategic decision?
Developing our Strategic Thinking with Art Deco
Let's move on to the next trend - the Art Deco. Before World War I, the style changed to a more geometric style, as the stylized nature of Art Nouveau design made its production expensive. They thus combined the most agile, rectilinear and cheap modernist style with fine craftsmanship and rich materials. During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamor, exuberance and faith in social and technological progress. Art Deco was a mix of many different, sometimes contradictory styles, united by the desire to be modern.
It represented the adaptation by society in general of the principles of Cubism and Exoticism. Without giving up the refinement, the objects have a geometrical decoration, even when made with simple bases. The Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, and other New York skyscrapers built during the 1920s and 1930s are Art Deco-style monuments.
In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, the Art Deco style became more subdued. New materials arrived, including chrome plating, stainless steel and plastic. Its rule ended with the beginning of World War II and the rise of strictly functional and unadorned styles of modernism.
Trying again to leverage these ideas to inspire you to resolve your current strategic decision, what do these ideas tell you?
- How can you do the opposite of what you have been doing?
- Can you make your business model, product, service, communication or procedure, faster, simpler or cheaper?
- Can you integrate just a few richer elements?
- Can you modernize with new materials or technologies?
- What is the current artistic trend you can use?
- What adornments can you take off?
Taking your strategic decision inspired by Modernism
In the 2nd half of the twentieth century, Luxury returned to its roots, to its most raw and primordial essence. Clinging to nature, the earth and its mineral and plant resources, it expressed itself in the simplicity of the line, the purity and transparency of the materials. Milky, diaphanous, natural or iridescent, the often monochromatic palettes of the time had the subtlety of dye or material. The dresses rolled like waves or shone like sand at sunset and the suits turned silver while the objects turned into trees, icebergs or nests. In its minimalism, Luxury here explores the human relationship with nature, poetry or the rational.
Inspired by this trend? Now think:
- What can you get from nature, the earth, plants for inspiration?
- How can you make your product, service, process or communication more pure, transparent or simple?
- How can you use poetry to guide you in your decision?
Growing in Strategic Thinking with Post-Modernism
Finally, we enter the early 21st century, where Luxury has the ability to create the wonderful and virtuosity makes us forget the practical purpose of the object. Creativity has value in itself and when it is done with perfect technical mastery, durable and can be passed on to the next generation, it becomes Luxury. In fashion, Luxury attracts the most creative minds that use a swirl of lines and colors. The dresses are fantastic and extravagant, awakening the imagination. The heels of the shoes get higher and subvert the conventional codes. They use exquisite satins, pearls, sequins, lace, precious stones, feathers. Fashion now has very few inhibitions. From a more philosophical perspective, the exhibition ends with the idea that contemporary luxury is defined by time, space and freedom.
To illustrate the new trends, the Louvre Abu Dhabi asked Cartier House to set up a museum installation. It created the Perfumed Cloud (USO = Unidentified Scented Object), in collaboration with Transsolar Klima Engineering. The facility invites visitors to climb a spiral staircase to immerse themselves in a fragrant cloud. I tried it and it was a fantastic experience for all senses.
Returning to your strategic decision, take inspiration from the latest trends, and see what happens to you when you think of a completely extravagant solution? Try answering these questions:
- Without any limit, how could it make you wonderful?
- Forget the practical issues and make it more decorative. How can you improve your technical mastery?
- How can you make it more durable?
- How can it be transmissible?
- What conventional code do you want to break?
- What foreign objects can you incorporate?
- Remove each inhibition you have one by one. Who could you team up to use other technology that you don't master?
- How can you use time, space or freedom?
Do you feel inspired? Did you find any ideas to make your strategic decision in these 4 Luxury trends of the last 100 years?
Creativity is the survival skill for the next millennium as it is the most valuable resource for dealing with simple or strategic problems. Many people inhibit their creativity and limit themselves to thinking that it is too difficult. As you have seen, it is easier than it seems to find inspiration to solve complex issues creatively. Apart from luxury and art, another good source of inspiration is nature in general, full of creative forms that allow the survival of the various species.
If you have or want to have leadership roles it is essential to have creativity and the other skills of strategic thinking. Without these you will have too much stress to manage many variables and problems for which there is no obvious solution. If you would like to learn more about how you can assess your strategic thinking and develop your strategic thinking and creativity or your team, please send us an email to email@example.com.
Bright Concept Partner