CHAPTER 8 How do I know what I think until I see what I say?

Strategy represents the organisation’s response to its perceived future environments

‘What is the main purpose of thinking?’ asks lateral thinking pioneer Edward de Bono in his book Thinking Course.1 ‘The main purpose of thinking is to abolish thinking.’


It’s true. Once we learn and become proficient with a new skill, we tend to switch the brain off. Consider an experienced driver and their daily ritual of driving to a local café for their morning coffee. It’s a routine they know so well: the route they’ll take, how busy the traffic will be, where they’ll park when they arrive. On such a simple trip, the chances are their mind is concentrating on everything but their driving. They are barely aware of checking their mirrors and speed and making other routine adjustments as they switch between radio stations or work on defrosting the windscreen. Because the driver is unconsciously competent at this familiar activity, thinking, to any great degree, is not really required.

Now compare that effortless experience with that of a learner driver. The novice checks all mirrors before setting off, consciously drives below the speed limit and indicates to turn a full 60 metres before reaching the intersection. The novice is alert to the slightest deviations in conditions. The act of driving is all about conscious concentration; it is all about thinking.

These examples of unconscious and conscious competence are represented ...

Get Rethinking Strategy now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.