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> Young Strategist Essay Prize

APG Young Strategist Essay Prize 2017

What is Transformational Thinking? And how should we use it?

This year we looked for inspiration from the new generation of planners and strategists who will be shaping our future at work and beyond. We wanted to harness their imagination, energy and strategic vision to help us write the prescription for the best practice of planning and strategy today. We asked for written submissions of up to 1500 words that show transformational thinking can be applied directly to the practice of planning and strategy.

The Winner & A Word from the Judges

Shekhar Deshpande is Chair of Judges and this is what he and his fellow judges, Kate Waters and Katie Mackay have to say about the judging and winner:

We thoroughly enjoyed the judging process, and we admired the multiple and diverse perspectives that had been thrown at a difficult question: What is transformational thinking?

and how should we use it? 


While the papers sometimes varied in their quality, there were well over a dozen that stood out. What was common to all of them was, unsurprisingly, that they had one compelling idea – one red thread at their heart, which had been followed through. 


Fortunately, there was one clear, unanimous winner – a paper that had all the above three qualities. It started with a compelling analogy, was clear on what we needed to learn from it, and was a delight to read. Our heartfelt congratulations to Freya Bronwin – well done for a stellar paper. You can read it here.

We have also chosen 4 papers that we believe deserve a Special Commendation. Congratulations to Min-Hyung Choi, Lauren Crichton, Frances Docx and Eline Goethals.


We have made some observations about the entries that we hope will be useful to everyone who entered:

  • Quite a few papers started with a profound and interesting analogy, observation or example – that created initial interest, but it wasn’t followed through.

  • We felt unanimously that it was important to land what learnings one could implement from these analogies. Great thinking is nothing without a clear sense of application, we said.

  • We all took an intuitive liking to those papers that had the above, but had packaged it well – they had weaved a compelling and simple narrative that made it a delight to read.


Finally, for what it’s worth, a couple of things to offer as advice:

  • Don’t hold back. If you’ve found one theme or angle that you think is interesting, go for it.

  • Approach it with confidence. This way, it won’t get diluted.

  • Show your paper to a friend. Simple as this may sound, there were a few papers that had mettle, but clearly the narrative in the author’s mind wasn’t getting across to the first time reader.

Thank you once again for entering, we were extremely impressed with the quality of thinking, and were reassured that the industry was going to be in good hands. The only downside: we felt a bit old.

Kate, Katie and Shekhar

Judging Committee


World copyright of each entry will pass to the APG and all papers entered into the competition may be published on-line by the APG or by WARC at the discretion of the APG.

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