Let’s talk about the I Factor: Imagination.

If you were around, you might remember there was a time before the technology boom of the 1980’s when imagination and business acumen were seldom linked. One train of thought held that imagination leaked out of us as we grew older to make room for the unyielding surfaces and sharp corners of pragmatism, an inevitable process.

This attitude may have had its origin in America’s beginnings as a hardscrabble, pioneering, agricultural nation, where kids were called on early to contribute. Stamped deep in the DNA of the U.S., the attitude prevailed for literally hundreds of years. Imagination was a luxury, not a necessity.

The personal technology revolution changed all that—as it changed so many aspects of the business landscape—and as the speed of progress grew exponentially it became more common to hear about the important role imagination played in a successful, forward-looking business. Imagination was no longer considered the purview of children. The fear that a corporate imagineer left to his or her own devices might come up with something like this outstanding Hello Kitty Convenience Store was a thing of the past.

In today’s retail petroleum and related industries, imagination plays out any number of ways. For example, Navresen, a Norwegian C-store doing business in Lithuania, worked with a top designer create a concept wherein where every single piece of packaging is designed to engage the imagination.

We’re also delighted to inform you that the parent corporation of SSCS’s corporate partner Circle K, Couche-Tard, is called out in this story as an innovator that infuses its success with plenty of imagination: they run their far-flung operation of thousands of stores as if it were one store, pushing critical decisions down to store personnel to better serve customers.

If you want a further example of entrepreneurial imagination in the industry, see what Tim Van Epps and the team at Sandri have planned for their entry into the C-store market, and the context that shaped their approach.

If you’re looking for further information about the link between imagination and success, here are a few articles that cover the subject as it pertains to the larger business arena:

And just in case you think we’re getting too serious, and because this blog loves the quirky, we thought we’d leave you with this: It certainly took imagination to turn this long-defunct gas station on Route 66 into an architectural office space.

Imagination: it’s not just for kids anymore. Obviously.