Business is believed to be a very fact-based discipline, as all kinds of metrics and statistical tools make it possible to measure its conditions, while decision-making is rooted in careful analysis of the surrounding reality. It seems there is little or no place for imagination, day-dreaming and fantasizing in a world that is intent on getting things done, delivering results and keeping the competition at bay. Since creating unreal realms is closely connected with the areas such as literature, film, poetry and other arts, it is by definition quite strongly detached from the concerns and constraints of economics. It might be good for spare time, but where is the use for professional situations. Despite these seemingly conflicting natures, imagination and business can be reconciled on closer inspection.

Contrary to popular beliefs, imagination is not entirely inconsistent with reality. Most figments of imaginative creation are indeed bound by the same limitations that are present in everyday life. It is thinkable to imagine the impossible, like raining with money, but it is a different category. What most people use their imagination for is not bending the rules of physics or economics, but to put themselves in a different kind of shoes that really exist. This allows to change the perspective without having to take part in an event or making the expenses necessary to go through it live.

In practical ways for business, it can be a fantastic cost-cutter. Being imaginative about a new market or a new product never matches full economic research into these topics in terms of accuracy, but saves a lot of effort, time and possibly expenses that go into simulations, surveys and testing. Of course, it cannot be used as evidence for making decisions, even though a brainstorming sessions with a good dose of reality-rooted imagining can help managers surge ahead.

At times of practically obligatory innovation, imagination is also a great asset because it squares so nicely with creativity. Products or inventions that are now the order of the day, a firm part of our daily reality, a doubtless here and now, were once merely inhabiting the minds of their authors. It was by this leap of faith, by suspending disbelief, that they managed to give birth to their imaginative ideas, transferring them from the world of promise to the world of tangible results. This is exactly what leadership training experts say when they encourage boldness in creating a vision of the future. Google founders could have been dubbed mad for dreaming to organize knowledge on the web, but when their application started running, critics were silenced forever. They had to see it to believe it and they did. Who could imagine painting being done by a pen tablet, rather than traditional means of expression, a few decades ago? Well, one day someone did, opening up a new avenue in consumer electronics.

In sum, there is no good business without relying on imagination, whether in mapping out dangers and opportunities or in generating innovation.