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Like yin and yang, human enterprise has two facets: closed-loop activities and open-ended endeavors. In management we call these two operations and strategy.

Customer satisfaction surveys, 360 evaluations, business process bench-marking, business intelligence, big data analytics and other “dashboard” systems all support “feedback” type, closed-loop activities meant to boost operational efficiency. All these have an evaluative core, and they are inward focused.

By contrast, daydreaming, denying established assumptions and other such open-ended creative endeavors support strategy which in turn generates the future. We therefore say these ladder activities are generative and are outward focused. Paraphrasing Peter Drucker, while one is efficient the ladder is effective; while one asks how to do things right, the other is concerned with the right things to do in the first place. And per Roger Martin, the world of business needs both.

Even so, the generative side of business appears to excite the world’s top thought leaders more as they mostly spend their time and energy in the nebulous, unreliable space of visioning and ideas (is it perhaps these guys are all drawn to understanding life, itself a generative process?). Contemporary greats like Roger Martin, Clay Christensen, Ron Baker, George Gilder, Kevin Kelly, Nassim Taleb as well as management classics like Peter Drucker and Russell Ackoff have all dedicated many books to the generative side of human enterprise. But something is amiss: to date there is no attempt to call out these efforts as related.

Generative Management is my attempt to address this shortfall of modern management. I look at Generative Management to provide the umbrella concept that is robust enough to weave a thread through many models that have achieved worldwide notoriety: disruptive innovation, integrative thinking, design thinking, antifragility, value-based pricing, blue ocean strategy, and others.

I hope you will join me on my quest to demistify the thinking that populates the generative business landscape.

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