Strategic Conversations: Why Exploration Matters — For Business & Society

Martin Reeves, Director of the BCG Henderson Institute
Martin Reeves, Director of the BCG Henderson Institute

Strategic Conversations, brought to you by the BCG Henderson Institute: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business strategy.

We know that exploration matters. As children, we naturally explore the world though trial and error, preparing ourselves for the future. It’s how we learn to live. As adults, we celebrate the explorers – from deep space to deep seas, from business innovation to science. Explorers’ energy and sheer bravery have improved the way we live in ways big and small.

Yet despite this drive to live and celebrate, most of us at some point stop exploring. Some earlier, some later. Instead, our focus turns to exploiting our knowledge, applying what we have learned.

Anousheh Ansari, Prodea Systems
Anousheh Ansari, Prodea Systems

But as we exploit the knowledge from our previous discoveries, how should we balance that action with generating our next big ideas? How do we know how much weight to give each side of the equation?

Put simply: As societies, companies and individuals, how should we consider the importance and challenge of continuing to explore?

Few have made the art and science of exploration more central to their personality and accomplishments than Anousheh Ansari. As an entrepreneur, Ansari is co-founder and chairwoman of Prodea Systems, the technology and software leader helping make the “connected home” a reality and empowering the Internet of Things. She also sits on the board of the XPRIZE and helped fund the Ansari XPRIZE, the $10 million competition that challenged teams to build a reliable, reusable, privately financed, manned spaceship capable of carrying three people 100 kilometers above the Earth’s surface twice within two weeks. The prize was awarded in 2004 and a new private space industry was launched. Ansari is also a true explorer in her own right – the first Iranian woman in space, the fourth overall self-funded space traveler, and the first self-funded woman to fly to the International Space Station.

Martin Reeves is a Boston Consulting Group Senior Partner and Managing Director, and Global Head of the BCG Henderson Institute, BCG’s vehicle for exploring new ideas in business and research on topic of corporate exploration. Reeves is also co-author of the award winning management book Your Strategy Needs a Strategy.

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