The complexity of the world these days demands an approach to strategy that is counter intuitive, perhaps even a contrarian approach to the accepted best practice.
For decades managers have sweated and planned, and set out to execute, just to see the planning go to crap at the first hurdle, as things rarely happen as planned.
In the “MBA model”, you push on regardless, because it is planned, the resources gathered, prioritised and allocated, a “push” model of strategy development and deployment.
If the opposite were to happen with strategy, as it does with agile software development, how would it differ?
A continuous process of combining strategic hypothesis generation and A/B testing, going hand in hand with incremental resource allocation from a diverse pool of experts, rather than a from pool of available bodies? Seems to be a sensible alternative, so why don’t we do it?
Generally we people like certainty, clarity, and a minimum of ambiguity, and that comes with a detailed plan. Problem is, plans are only as good as our ability to read the future, which is generally pretty ordinary. The better way is to know the end point, and if we can manage the ambiguity and uncertainty, make our own away there based on the obstacles we encounter.
In this uncertain world, we need a compass, not a roadmap.
Maps tell us to move forward a defined distance, take a left, followed by a right, and so on, whereas a compass tells us the direction, not necessarily the detail of how to navigate the immediate terrain.
This counter intuitive approach to strategy is often what SME’s do, without really recognising it as such. They react to what is in front of them, rather than what they may have planned to do, often the plans do not even exist in a formal sense. Their challenge is to apply some focus on the longer term, not just the burning bridge they are standing on.