Business (Strategy) Books Lack Creativity…

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by: Alexander Osterwalder

Today I did some research for my upcoming book with Prof Yves Pigneur: I went to a Border’s bookstore in New York and browsed the business (strategy) literature for their visuals and design. Basic conclusion: except for the cover there are no to little visuals, even for the most innovative book contents.

The most visual strategy illustration I found was in Kim & Mauborgne’s blue ocean strategy book. It is part of their concept to allow for a visual comparison of the differentiation strategy of a company. Though I do like their book, I believe it lacks the same visual creativity than all other strategy books.

As to their form & usability my conclusion is that the large majority of business (strategy) books are totally un-inspirational. So I moved on to architecture books, where I expected some great visual presentations. Of course architecture is more tangible than business (strategy). Yet, I don’t accept that excuse…

My nicest surprise during this little research was the discovery of a domain that makes great use of visuals: personal style. Look at the following photo & text. Wouldn’t that be a nice illustration when talking about customer strategies and "personas"?

The most notable exception in the field of business books was the one I bought. It’s called The Art of Engagement – Bridging the Gap between People and Possibilities. The author, Jim Haudan, uses illustrations extensively in his book and uses them as a tool for engagement… not surprising. Though this lack of using visuals in business (strategy) books seems like a detail, I think it is essential when we are talking about strategy today. Strategies have to be communicated clearly. In today’s complex world this is only possible through visuals that simplify the complex and make it clear.

Visualization is also a technique that uses one of our most important senses – the ability to see. While it was difficult to include images in the early days of books, this is now different. Why are strategy gurus still not making use of today’s technology?

I hope I can change all this and bring in a fresh breeze… However, I’m still looking for the right designer, who can help us with our book 😉

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