by Victor Perton
The Centre for Optimism's second web-based survey is entitled "Strategy and Optimism: Through the Pandemic and on to a Brighter Future" and commenced in March 2020.
375 people from at least 250 organisations from 16 countries, experienced in strategy creation, completed the survey by mid-April. We have kept the survey form open and you are welcome to complete it. Several strategists thanked us for the thought-provoking questions which sharpened up their strategy review.
Our earlier research based on asking strategy experts one-to-one had led us to a view that good strategy relies on optimism. We waited in anticipation for the results of the on-line survey.
We asked the open question, "What would you say about the relationship between optimism and good strategy?"
“Psychophysiology /Biofeedback / Neurofeedback – If it wasn’t Science, it would be a Miracle!”
“A bias that we need to minimise
“A good strategy has to have a goal that inspires, that people WANT to work towards
“A good strategy is dependent upon optimism spiced up with a degree of realistic perspective.
“A good strategy is optimistic; otherwise, why have a strategy?
“A good strategy is used to achieve your business goals. To establish a more profitable business or to allow a business to survive in the current climate, you need to be optimistic as the alternative is to cease operation.
“A good strategy needs to be grounded in reality but should also include optimistic step-change goals
“A good strategy takes you to a better place, so it is inherently an optimistic model.
“A good strategy will establish aspirational goals and objectives. Try delivering against that with a group of pessimists!
“A positive attitude - one of our key values helps us find good in strategies and makes us more likely to embrace change.
“A positive attitude and approach are more likely to be achieved by teams with less resistance ... this must, however, be backed up with a substantive plan!
“A Realistic Plan to be in Business in 2022 Keep inventing new Solutions for Customers Look after each other.
“A strategy is generally set with the belief that it may be reasonably achievable with sufficient effort, leadership, and timing.
“A strategy would not be viable or actionable unless it incorporated the anticipation of an optimistic outcome.
“Across the network, it is a variable and moving dynamically from tightly connected to an extremely loose connection
“Actually, I don’t see a connection...
“All good strategy needs to be optimistic
all optimism MUST be centred upon reality. With this in mind, an optimistic position should result in a greater opportunity than a pessimistic position. People who look at a glass as being half full will have a better attitude towards any opportunity than those who take the half-empty attitude.
“All strategies should lean toward the side of optimism. 95-5
“an optimistic strategy is not naive about risks and threats but has self-determining energy that instils confidence and desire to make things happen vs trying to predict the future and respond to it.
“Apart from Moore’s law, we cannot predict the reason for new knowledge. We can be optimistic about new knowledge, but we can’t plan for it. So it can’t be in the strategy.
“Articulating a positive vision creates a framework for specific actions which releases positive energy.
“Balance and realism are important in strategy creation. Optimism helps find and realise opportunities.
“Being positive in mind, body and soul is critical, so it is important to have established that, indeed, anchored that intent/feeling before embarking on any strategy development.
“Believe in the best long term outcomes and shape policy around that.
“Believing that you can achieve your strategy is optimistic. Why set a strategy if you don't believe it is achievable. It needs to be surrounded by the same quality & risk systems.
“Both are interlinked for the betterment and good news.
“Both are required to create the future.
“Both optimism and good strategy work together to motivate positive attitudes and behaviour.
“Business Owners are generally by nature optimistic, and the strategy should reflect that. How else can we get people to follow and contribute unless we are optimistic?
“Buy-in from all stakeholders.
“By definition, leaders must be able to gaze through space and time and imagine a noble future for the people they lead. If they don't, they're not leading. A new direction set by the strategy needs to be positive and upbeat if it is to engage the organisation.
“Community direction, plan for a bright future and get a bright future.
“Complete. You can’t have optimism without a light on the hill that commits and engages.
“Confidence = Optimism. So it's taking a beating in uncertain CV19 times.
“Corona Virus infects in a geometric progression. By learning about its indications, then it's infection traces, various therapies can be best-determined case by case.
“Defensive behaviour and strategies lead to a bunkered mentality which over time creates stagnation. Optimistic strategy and goals energize and allow inspiration and risk-taking
“Direct correlation and need to be optimistic and positive in strategy - realistic but focusing on developing a strategy for success.
“Essential and implicit to optimising relationships, personal and professional.
“Essential if you want to move forward
“Essential to be optimistic in order to lead the organisation in the right strategic direction
“Essential to a creative, positive vision
"Experience has taught me that optimism can sometimes be akin to not giving up. Continuing to show up against all logic and reason and doing what little can be done (which never seems enough) can be the single difference between seeing only the abyss ahead and giving up completely or, taking a step towards the faint flicker of light at the end of the long and dark tunnel and then taking another step and another. There are usually two options: 1. Keep going and do what you can (What else are you going to do?) 2. Give up and curl up in a ball and … "
“For a good strategy to evolve and develop into a successful project direction, be it involving personal, financial or business, one has to pull on vital resources involving optimism and opportunity.
“For me, a good strategy should be defined in an optimistic way. In other words, the strategy should be drafted in a growth perspective, like searching for revenue increase, improving performance, improving lifestyle and quality for the employees, and so on. Many times and many people that I know, only establish strategies in a pessimist way (cut costs, increase the works hours without balance, and so on)
“Going down rapids in a boat can be terrifying or exhilarating. Choose exhilarating, it will lead to a better outcome, and you will enjoy the ride more.
“Good strategies are based on optimism.
“Good strategy aims toward an optimistic outcome.
“Good strategy CANNOT be anything but optimistic. I define strategy as "a set of insights from which we build a framework for future decision-making". The insights must relate to the desired future, the framework must include desirable future scenarios, and the decisions must help us get from A to B, where B is a better place than where we are today.
“Good strategy has to be optimistic. Why have a strategy unless you think you have a future.
“Good strategy is a focus on successful outcomes, and that presupposes an optimistic outlook.
“Good strategy is based on realism, not optimism. People are naturally optimistic about positive outcomes, so it is necessary to temper that when developing a strategy.
“Good strategy is based on sound analysis and corporate capability. Optimism must be a foundation of strategy, but it must also be realistic and not too much blue sky.
“Good strategy is purposeful and essentially human purpose (one hopes) is to make things better. I hadn’t thought of the link before you posed the question, but I guess good strategy is inherently optimistic.
“Good strategy maps the processes and activities required to achieve a stated objective. The capacity of the strategy to achieve an optimal outcome is dependent upon the optimism of the objective.
“Good strategy must be somewhat optimistic to create a feeling of well being rather than panic and negativity and looking at the bright side.
“Good strategy needs to be based on likely outcomes. There is no value in negative outcomes, so the question becomes how to plan and produce long term positive outcomes. This leads to the question of what defines a positive outcome. It is not just doing well in a booming economy: It's engaging workforce, customers, suppliers. It is by building intellectual and community value
“Good strategy needs to be optimistic in nature. People need to have positives to look forward to.
“Good strategy results in optimism.
“Good strategy should exude optimism.
“Good strategy will usually engender optimism if it is delivered in an informed manner and if it is implemented correctly.
“Great vision and consistent, continuous communication
“Having an optimistic view is critical to the success of any strategy.
“Helps to build confidence and underpin organisational resilience.
“Hope and delivery
“Hopefully but realistic and achievable.
“How can you be strategic without being optimistic? Even dealing with the direst of circumstances, you are optimistic about how you can deal with it.
“I believe optimism is crucial to human survival - must there be a 'formal' strategy?
“I believe people live up or down to our expectations and similarly optimism is an important part of inspiring an organization to be its strategic best
“I believe they are closely linked. If you plan for the worst but always hope for the best, I believe any business can and will be successful. Ensuring a Growth Mindset amongst all employees is also critical in our experience.
“I believe they work hand in hand. One cannot be successful without the other.
“I can’t really see how a good strategy can be based on pessimism. A strategy needs to lead somewhere better - this must be based on optimism.
“I don't think there necessarily is a relationship - optimism may be warranted in strategy, but it may also not be
“I hadn’t previously considered them to be interrelated, but I can see that they are
“I lean towards optimism.
“I think it is effective as a means to achieve objectives. In that sense, it is a strategy but not a goal.
“I think optimism helps the probability of a good outcome and better implementation. Much of my background involves a three-pronged approach to avoid getting caught ill-prepared. The three prongs being the best case, probable case, and worst case. The optimism comes in with the attitude and behaviours of what needs to be true to achieve the best outcome.
“I think you need to be optimistic; it needs to be balanced, too much optimism may lead to loss of employee support.
“I would use the word "confidence."
“If a strategy is not optimistic, then it is pessimistic. Why would you have a strategy to fail or get worse?
“If optimism is one of the key drivers for strategy, then it is more likely that the strategy that results will be more ambitious and forward-thinking, and be structured around positive outcomes.
“If you are confident that you are doing the right thing the right way you cannot fail.
“If you can feel good about the impact of your work and make a living, life is good.
“If you don't have a goal, you don't have a strategy, just tactics.
“If your strategy is about achieving objectives, which is a good news story, the organisation has to believe success is possible, in order to achieve the strategy. If you have optimism and strategy, the response to barriers to achieving strategies is to look for other ways. Optimism enables this thinking.
“Impossible to create a good strategy without optimism. Choosing optimism is the most important strategy.
“It has its place, but it is also dependent on the types of people that then need to implement it. I do believe it is beneficial to have a positive/optimistic view in management of strategy, but that is just basic marketing and effective communication.
“It is critical.
“It is easier to achieve goals by being optimistic. People are more likely to respond to an optimist to get things done in the workplace. It boosts morale.
“It is essential to infuse optimism into strategy as this enables a positive environment in which people can actively pursue goals with hope and intent.
“It is essential to know where you are going and that you have set desirable, welcome and significant change/outcomes/ improvements.
“It is essential. I have never approached strategy in my work with a negative or less than confident attitude.
“It must be realistic and evidence with links that can be clearly articulated to others.
“It provides for a projected positive future - however, I believe when developing positively affirmed strategic documentation, it should always be undertaken in a professionally centred framework.
“It provides the vision for a future that is brighter than the current state.
“It really starts with objectives. If the objectives are about self-interest, then one may be optimistic about achieving those goals, but it is unlikely to be a key feature of strategy. If the objectives are measured in benefits to others because those deliver consequential benefits to the strategist, then it is very likely that optimism will be inherent, if unspecified, element of the strategy.
“It requires everyone to get on board. If you don't get participation and acceptance, then there really isn't optimism, and your strategy won't succeed.
“It should be pragmatic and practical but not limit the mind to what it can achieve. Not reductionist.
“It should breathe life into strategy and offer improved and enhanced outcomes.
“It's crucial, particularly in these uncertain times.
“It's the lens to future cast what good and 'success' look like' It provides a positive angle to risk management - being able to exploit upside and opportunity.
It’s hard to see how good strategy isn't synergistic with optimism
“It’s imperative we stay positive: simply put hope is what will drive good behaviours. Nihilism will only cause despair, and inevitably people will give up.
“It’s very difficult to create an optimistic strategy when we can’t currently understand how long we’ll be in this situation, and how many of our colleagues will be in their positions when we arrive on the other side.
“It’s a direct line to a positive future.
“It strengthens the ability of the intentions to bind communities.
“Linear relationship, yet multi-layered.
“Most strategies are inherently optimistic. However, it must be tempered with realism and be achievable.
“Motivates people to achieve a common defined goal Effective organisations are, after all the outcome of people wanting to work together.
“Necessary but not sufficient
“Need for a Good Balance of Optimism and Good Strategy!
“Needs to be practical optimism. I have been involved in a strategy that’s too optimistic and not grounded in reality.
“No use developing a strategy without also having an optimistic outlook. Having a pessimistic outlook is a recipe for disaster and failure for any strategy.
“Now more than ever, the world craves positive news and a 'can do' approach.
“One can be optimistic even in the depths of a tragedy, such as the botched response to the Pandemic in the USA. The president is optimistic about his election success chances later this year, and this enthusiasm is driving the entire federal response. Shame about the collateral damage
“Only optimistic strategies lead to growth and success; pessimism is a step on the way to failure.
“Opportunity seeking, learning mindset, "safe to fail" culture, growth mindset, resilience, community cohesion.
“Optimism allows you to plan for and account for the less favourable outcomes without being overwhelmed by them, pushing you to focus on achieving the favourable outcomes rather than accepting a less favourable outcome. Optimism doesn't ignore the facts; it looks for all the positives in each situation and makes the most of them to maximise favourable results.
“Optimism at least offers a chance of exceeding targets; pessimism guarantees missing targets.
“Optimism drives good strategy as long as it is realistic and preferably data based. Unrealistic
“optimism is terrible for strategy and execution.
“Optimism enables you to envision the way things can be; a good strategy maps out a realisable path to get there.
“Optimism for the health of the heart. Realism should feed the brain... and inform good strategy.
“Optimism fuels a good strategy
“Optimism helps us envision a better future.
“Optimism is confidence in success. We cannot succeed in an environment that fails. Good strategy, therefore, needs to integrate the contribution to a common success, balance our own ambitions with the general good
“Optimism is a foundation for confidence about any strategy.
“Optimism is a key ingredient of any successful agile strategy.
“Optimism is a perspective that everything will fall in its right place, while Good Strategy is an execution that may or may not involve optimism.
“Optimism is an outcome of good strategy if you get it right.
“Optimism is certainly part of creating a great culture and positive alignment with the Purpose of a company, and as such it is very important as an enabler of Strategy - I'm just not sure that formally adding it to Strategy would work well.
“Optimism is different from positivity. If your strategy is based on optimism, it allows space for things to happen (even if they are not desired) knowing that at the end, doing what you need to do, it's going to be fine.
“Optimism is necessary to think about the future and what your business can do for customers, employees and all stakeholders to solve problems, make people's lives better and deliver profit.
“Optimism is something that can be factored into the tone of the key messages and types of channels used.
“Optimism is the active ingredient that focuses the outcome and drives behaviour.
“Optimism is the capacity to see the positive and the opportunity even in sometimes difficult circumstances (easy enough in good times) and the role of strategy is to develop the tools necessary to deliver those positives even if they are more limited than in good times while minimising the risks in the circumstances you face (cannot eliminate the risks other, so it is a question of managing them).
“Optimism is the lens through which to frame our worldview. Strategy, by its very nature, is about navigating an unknowable future. Hence it would be easy to come from either blind faith (everything will be all good) or complacency (everything will continue in a steady and almost predictable progression). Covid19 is teaching us the realities of discontinuity and disruption. It would be easy to fall into despair without optimism, i.e. a fundamental belief in the human capacity for creativity and collaboration to resolve wicked problems.
“Optimism is the vehicle for good strategy.
“Optimism like pessimism is a subjective psychological emotion that great strategists might use as a part of a narrative, but has no place in strategy.
“Optimism needs to underpin any strategy. Caveats may need to be applied to its likelihood or otherwise of success. The other choice is you plan to fail!
“Optimism should be, in my view, one option in the strategy (Optimistic vs Most likely vs Pessimistic) and some flags to guide implementation.
“Optimism should be inspirational, realistic and relevant to the lives of people you are trying to influence.
“Optimism will assist others to work with others and focus on a good outcome.
“Optimism, by definition, is a false expectation of good outcomes. Strategy should be based on data and logic, not wishful thinking.
“Optimistic people and groups that show gratitude can deliver significantly better outcomes.
“People are more likely to see the value and be inspired by a strategy that is inherently optimistic. It gives people hope
“Placing the objective of a future of a return to better times as a core element of explaining the contemporary issues how we face them support each other and attempt to be a survivor with a better future
“Plan for the worst & Hope for the best.
“Positive frame of mind is necessary to achieve the greater good.
“Positivity builds in us a desire to be creative. Good strategy relies on creative brains to have vision and optimism about reaching goals. Harnessing whatever moments in our day that can be viewed through a lens of joy is very useful in fighting anxiety, depression and isolation. That means at the moment, it is more important than ever to find joy in generosity and small minutes of beauty. Despair can be debilitating. For me, optimism equals - flexibility, resourcefulness and creativity in building strategy to get small businesses and large businesses through this. Challenges can be turned around. (I know this sounds like a lot of hippy shit and I haven't been reading too many Instagram yoga posts!)
"Provides confidence and a sense of calm to your team.
“Should help you grow personally, knowing that having an optimistic mindset will help you as well as others if the goal is not just personal.
“Solutions can only be developed when you are positively forward-looking.
“Strategic plans must contemplate three scenarios: pessimistic, status quo, and optimistic.
“Strategies must be rational and realistic. But optimism and confidence in our ability to face challenges, overcome obstacles and survive bad outcomes are critical in motivating us to pursue those strategies.
“Strategies must be realistic and wise to potential risks. Optimism is essential to execution.
“Strategy cannot be "good" if it's not optimistic. Stakeholders need optimism. It's infectious. To inspire people is the whole purpose of....a massive transformational purpose.
“Strategy cannot be termed 'good' unless it has an element of optimism.
“Strategy drives change, innovation and growth; being optimistic adds a lens through which to set long term objectives. ‘Blue sky’.
“Strategy has to have a balance with risk and optimism is just part of the picture.
“Strategy helps to shape planning and outcomes - to be effective; it has to effectively assess the positive and negative to come to a considered decision. The optimism comes from planning something that you want and hope will work.
“Strategy is a physical edict, the written/spoken decree of the stated goals. Optimism is the psychological ethos which underlines the mantra.
“Strategy is based on data, trends & demand for your service or product, but you need to remain optimistic when during the implementation process.
“Strategy is typically future-focused, even if trying to ameliorate a current bad situation, we look to the future with hope, thus for a future strategy to be adopted, it needs to be hopeful.
“Strategy needs to be driven but an objective. Optimism may be a modality to achieve the objective but is not an end in and of itself.
“Strategy needs to be realistic. If goals and objectives are optimistic, the strategy is an enabler of optimism.
“Strategy needs to harness the insights, expertise and possibility focused thinking of people. While risk assessment and mitigation need to be part of the picture, what gets people excited, aligned and active is an exciting (optimistic) vision.
“Strategy Realism is essential - one has to remember that strategy has to be implemented -too often, the strategy is overly optimistic, resulting in implementation failure. Balance strategy optimism with realism to ensure optimum outcomes in delivery.
“Strategy should always be optimistic and solution focussed.
“Strategy should always be positive in its outlook, seeking to bring change for the good of stakeholders and society.
“Strategy should be about identifying and attaining the most beneficial course of action.
“Strategy should be optimistic, challenging, visionary and understandable. This maximises the likelihood of enthusiastic uptake. But it must be able to be implemented, including clear measures (quantitative and non-quantitative) to track the delivery. It also has to be developed, taking into account risk and risk mitigation measures.
“Strategy should focus on the opportunities available to the business and the risks that need to be taken to capitalise on them. Taking risk requires optimism because not everything the business attempts will be an immediate success. Optimism allows the business to develop a long-term view.
"Strong. You have a strategy to achieve an objective. If you have an objective, you need to optimistic that you'll achieve it.
“Successful strategy cannot exist without optimism! Strategy is the act of navigating through challenges towards a defined better future state, and you need optimism to envision that improved future.
“Surely the purpose of a strategy is all about succeeding, doing things better, avoiding risks etc. so optimistic in nature? a negative strategy makes no sense and would be hard to get employees to buy into
“Synergistic création between the two
“That it is necessary, but rare in my experience. I think the relationship would yield amazing results and people like the idea of it, but never really practise it.
“The alignment of strategy with optimism is creativity and enabling mindsets.
“The basis of a better future lies in an optimistic outlook of the what's ahead.
The connection is axiomatic
“The nature of the strategy affects the outcomes.
“The research on learned optimism, positive emotion, compassion, gratitude, relationships, meaning, communication, strengths, etc. is what we stand for, so woven into all aspects of our strategy.
“The strategy should describe the direction of the optimism.
“There is a critical nexus between strategy and optimism that is essential in guiding the way forward for any business and its Board, Executive and Staff.
“There is a definite relationship between Optimism and good strategy. The optimistic approach is necessary for the success of any good strategy.
“There is no good strategy without optimism.
“They achieve positive outcomes for the purpose.
“They are congruent
“They are dependent variables to accomplish objectives.
“They are independent.
“They are linked; without optimism, a strategy is just a dream.
“They are not always linked. A good strategy could be connected with down-scale however the optimistic component is in the establishment of the goal, even if it's a 'downturn' goal
“They are one.
“They go hand in hand; however, risk mitigation also important for when things don't go to plan.
“They have strong mutuality; you cannot have an effective, good strategy that is pessimistic; don't bother if that is the case. Be realistic and optimistic.
“They have to go hand in hand. As mentioned, if you can dream it, you can do it.
“They should be inextricably linked.
“They’re connected. However, implementation is required.
“Timelines with actions and outcomes to assess progress.
“Unless you are positive in your outlook, any strategy will be about avoiding failure, not pursuing opportunities.
“What would you say about the relationship between optimism and good strategy?
“Why have a strategy unless it comes from an optimistic place?
“Without faith that we can succeed, strategy will always lead to failure. Belief is crucial. Handling doubts and conflicting beliefs by fully expressing them is critical.
“Without optimism and a stretch in the objectives, the organisation is likely to flounder or be overrun.
“Without optimism, strategic planning is viewed as to be done rather than let's do it.
“Working on a strategy of recovery post floods in Brisbane helped realise the facts about what we offer as a city; this made it easier to identify the green shoots and drive confidence. It was optimistic and therefore, a good strategy with good results and ultimately, recovery.
“Yes, you must be able to consider a future better than today, and then be able to take positive steps to enable it.
“You can have one without the other and make less progress. Both are a fantastic combination.
“You cannot have one without the other.
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