How do we come up with the “interesting” elements of our strategy?

In my previous article, I talked about the second process of value creation, “ethnography.” In this article, I would like to talk about the third process of value creation, “Derivation of strategy story elements.”

The whole value creation process is shown here.

Give shape to intuitions through abduction processes

3) Derivation of strategy story elements
Derive new elements leading to the strategy story through the abduction process

Up to this point, “intuition of a strategy story” and “ethnography” were sensory and non-verbal processes of intuiting and feeling, but from here on, we will gradually enter the process of embodiment, conceptualization, and verbalization.

Abduction(Retroduction) is a concept that can be translated as “hypothetical reasoning. In this context, it can be understood as “imagining and verbalizing a new value that embodies what has been intuited and experienced.

Abduction is a thought process that is often seen in Sherlock Holmes or Detective Conan. If we combine the evidence (A) found at the crime scene, the eyewitness (B), and the information © from the people involved, the culprit must be X! That’s the image.

The point here is that X is not inevitably derived from A, B and C. On the contrary, if X (the culprit) is known, then A, B, and C should be inevitably derived from X. The greatness and fun of Sherlock Holmes and Detective Conan lies in the fact that they identify the culprit through the abduction process, even though it is not inevitable.

The abduction process differs from deduction and induction in logical thinking in that it is not an inevitable consequence. The fact that it is called “hypothetical reasoning” implies that it is not an inevitable consequence.

“If we can’t lead by necessity, how can we implement it?”

That’s the question that comes to mind. As you say, the fact that we cannot lead inevitably means that we cannot define the entire thinking process, such as the one that always leads to a conclusion in a certain way.

If I were to describe it in terms of feeling, I would say that it’s like being a great detective and trying to figure out, “What is the essential thing that we haven’t seen yet that would give us a rational connection to what we have intuited and experienced so far?” It’s like trying to identify culprit X, which would rationally explain several pieces of evidence and testimonies A, B, and C.

If I were to explain it in more descriptive terms, the mechanism would be as shown in the following figure. (However, as I mentioned earlier, not all the details can be defined, so please take this as an overview.)

In this diagram, what we already know are S1, S2, and S3; E1, E2, and E3 refer to the direct experience that led to the implications of S1, S2, and S3. In the abduction process, the implications of S1, S2, and S3 are used to derive the concept, idea, and general law of A. This is exactly the same as the process of identifying the culprit X from the evidence and testimony of A, B, and C in the previous example.

In this diagram, A is led back and forth between the upper region, which is perceived by the intuition consciousness, and the lower region, which is perceived by the bodily consciousness. This shows the back-and-forth exploration of what is felt in the “strategic story intuition” (mainly intuition consciousness) and “ethnography” (mainly body consciousness) of the value creation process.

In detective novels, there are stories of cases that are not easy to solve, but through persistence, back and forth, and trial and error, they come closer to a solution, which is the same image as this.

Use metaphors and analogies to verbalize the images that have been intuited

“Metaphors” and “analogies” are important when verbalizing the sensations obtained through the abduction process. Both have the meaning of “thinking and expressing a certain thing by comparing it to another thing,” but we will consider them as different concepts here.

Metaphors are a very effective way to share concepts that are difficult to verbalize in a highly pure way. In some cases, they are easier to share than verbal descriptions, because they include detailed nuances.

For example, let’s consider the metaphor that “theory is a building.”

This metaphor is very powerful. Just the word “building” is enough to say…

・The foundation needs to be solid.
・It takes time to build something big.
・If it is made robustly, it is hard to break.

Metaphors can convey the meaning of something without explanation. Metaphors can convey a set of invisible mental models, accompanying physical sensations, and emotions.

Furthermore, depending on what we choose as the subject of the metaphor, we can express different textures. For example, the metaphor “the earth is a living organism” can convey an organic image, as if the earth is as delicate as a human body and has a will of its own.

On the other hand, if we use the metaphor “the earth is a container,” the image of the earth will be inorganic and controllable by people. I think you will find that the texture of what is conveyed by these two metaphors is quite different.

Analogy, on the other hand, is a way of thinking that breaks down a concept into its elements and looks for common elements with other concepts. It is a bit more analytical than metaphor.

For example, let’s compare recruiting activities to a marketing method. If we break down marketing processes such as “target selection” and “needs identification,” we can see that they can be directly applied to recruitment activities. This is an example of the use of analogy.

Both metaphors and analogies are very useful in embodying and verbalizing what is intuitive and sensory.

“Why do we need to use metaphors and analogies to explain intuitive and sensory things, rather than explaining them directly?”

I think some people may have this question. As you say, if you can explain it directly, that’s fine. There is no need to use metaphors or analogies in that case.

The advantages of using metaphors and analogies include the following.

The ability to verbalize difficult-to-verbalize nuances in a way that is easy to share.
Metaphors can express not only visible events, but also the mental models, physical sensations, and emotions associated with them.

It can reveal new elements that were previously unnoticed.
Comparison by analogy can reveal new elements that were previously unnoticed.

Because of these advantages, I recommend that you actively use metaphors and analogies whenever you find it difficult to directly verbalize intuitive or sensory content, and even when you are relatively able to do so.

The Metaphor of 100 Fungos

As an example of the abduction process and metaphors, I would like to share an episode about 100 fungos, our main product in the early days of our company.

In my previous article, I talked about how the concept of 100 fungos was born, and this process is exactly the abduction process.

My intuition
Is it really effective to just listen to the teacher talk one way? Isn’t there another way?
→Have a quest(question): “What kind of training would make the participants enjoy the training more and lead to actual outcomes in their work?

My feeling and experience
When I was working for a consulting company, I received a lot of feedback from senior consultants on my output, which led to my personal growth. Outputting leads to learning.
In order to play tennis with confidence in a very tense match, I needed to acquire shots that I could reproduce 100 times in practice. For this, thorough repetition practice is necessary.

I mentioned in the above note that the concept of “100 Fungos” was born through discussions among the founding members of the company, who kept asking the question, “What kind of training would make it more enjoyable for the participants and lead to actual outcomes in their work?”

You can see that this process is an abduction process, which is based on what we perceive in our intuitive and bodily consciousness, but also explores something essential that is common to all of them.

The “something” that was discovered is expressed in the baseball metaphor of “100 Fungos”. This could be described as “a training style that focuses on repetitive practice through output,” but there is something that cannot be conveyed by that alone.

By using the metaphor of “100 Fungos,” we are able to include the following nuances that cannot be expressed in the description of “a training style that focuses on repetitive practice through output.”

▼Assuming a place to produce outcomes.
The training must be designed to produce outcomes.)

▼That anyone can do it if they try.
It’s not a matter of whether you can or can’t, but whether you will or won’t.

▼Gap between knowing/ Doing/ Getting used to
There is a difference between what we understand, what we can do, and what we are used to doing.

And by comparing the components of “100 Fungos” in actual baseball as an analogy, we were able to come up with the following new ideas.

In baseball, it is important to practice with intention based on the results of the game.
→In training, it is important to attend training with intention based on work processes and results.

In baseball, it is better to have feedback and advice from the coach than to just receive balls without thinking.
→In training, it is better to get feedback and advice on our output than to just output it without thinking.

In baseball, there is an appropriate load and an appropriate number of repetitions.
→In training, it is important to design the difficulty level of the exercise and the number of repetitions.

All of these ideas are included in the “100 Fungos Training” as essential elements.

In this article, I talked about the third process of value creation, “deriving strategy story elements.” In the next article, we will discuss the fourth process, “consolidation and story making.”

Here are the quests of the day. (If you’d like, please share your thoughts in the comments.)

・In your experience, if you have ever been inspired by the abduction process, like a detective, what was that experience like?

・What experiences, if any, have you had where you found it easier to communicate your thoughts and feelings through the use of metaphors and analogies?

Bunshiro Ochiai

Founder and CEO of a training company, Alue | MS in Particle Physics. | BCG | Questing “What is the paradigm for integrating contradictions in management?”