MacStrategy anyone – planning with a startled hook (?)
27/04/2010 - "MacStrategy anyone – planning with a startled hook (?)" by Donal Carroll

Who invented strategy? Companies? Consultants? If it’s ‘dead’ now, how exactly was it alive? Companies plan -consultants plan but with bigger words? Walter Kiechel’s ‘The Lords of Strategy’, suggests consultants, McKinsey being crucial, were key in the ‘invention’ of strategy. So, did they offer companies a BigMac(Kinsey) and, to differentiate, with individualised Macproduced relish? Might this explain why so few strategies actually worked? If so, how should strategy work?  

The strategy of this blog is to experiment with questions – the question mark is the ‘startled hook’ in the title. This is because questions –and the more inventive the better- are more likely to fit the current uncertain business landscape, with all the givens gone, and leave you (the reader) to have to think to build your own responses.

Strategy makes claims to fixity and stability –a sort of sacred planning. But, what we know of conventional planning is that it hardly survives its first sortie with its enemy –its market! Man plans. God laughs. Let’s take an example: Rupert Murdoch’s strategy is to build a pay wall. What questions help in this instance? A typical one would be ‘Where do we find better builders?’ But a better one is: ‘Where do we find those committed to digging underneath it?’  

Another typical question would be: ‘How long should a strategy last?’ Las Vegas kwik-marriage outlets define a ‘successful marriage’ as one that lasts longer than a honeymoon –or the flight back. So, if relationships have a sell-by date, why not strategy? Nonetheless, still a typical question. So here’s a better one, to fit uncertainty: ‘How can our business model carry our ‘strategy’?  

Finally, what’s the best way when planning, to embrace uncertainty? How to capture and create opportunities from what happens in the space between stimulus and response, between plan-effort and market-yield, and between our intentions and what emerges? For all organisations, learning collectively, that’s what. However undernourished it may be, and more expensive to use the longer it is neglected, it’s free, and the only lubricant to fit the uncertain bits together. Typical question: ‘What’s the cost to your organisation of not learning?’ Better question: ‘How can we increase our rate of collective rate of learning in uncertainty, to improve performance?’ Best question: ‘How could we build a business model on that?’  

What do you think?    


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Visitors' Comments on this Post

01/05/2010 Comment posted by Leo Aylen
It is now almost impossible for us 21st century people to be too crazy in our thinking. I've been meeting (for a documentary film, which, sadly, in now not happening) a German scientist by the name of Holger Krapp, who implants mini robots in bluebottles' brains, in order to learn more about their eye-brain co-ordination. What could be more out of the way than that? And yet, Professor Krapp's work has already led to advances in road traffic safety, and air control systems. With the possible connections available through modern technology, we must impose no limits on our imaginations, and managers must realise that the way to sucess is through the constant stimulus of creativity, and the accompanying willingness to accept the extraordinary. For what is extraordinary in 2010 may well be normality in 2020.

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