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Today, I’m talking about the assumptions of the strategy. But first, let me begin with a wise quote:
This is a quote from futurologist Kjell A. Nordström, and a fantastic one at that! It means that everything we think about the future is merely assumptions and guesses. A mastermind, who accurately predicts tomorrow’s events, simply doesn’t exist. Probabilities can be calculated, but they are all guesses. I’m beginning to think that this is a very wise quote.
To go forward, we must live at the mercy of assumptions. We make good predictions about the future, but they are nothing more than beliefs. Very interesting.
No-one knows which way the world is going, but others are capable of making assumptions about the direction. The quality of assumptions strongly influences the quality of the strategy.
Strategy is a journey from point A to point B, and it is built on top of our current assumptions. The point is that no one actually knows what point B is. It will become clear later down the road! If you try to define point B, you might not end up there, because a better waypoint was discovered along the way.
In fact, we are proceeding within a specific sector. A sector is my best metaphor for the strategy. The borders of the sector are defined by the strategy, and people are given the task to find the best direction within the sector. However, at the beginning of the journey the situation often looks like this:
We are in point A, and we define our sector in which we wish to travel. However, we don’t know what point B will be. Point B represents the target we intend to reach. While we travel inside the sector, we constantly encounter various challenges. The people, that work with us inside the business, are tasked with finding the best path forward, while staying inside the sector at the same time. It is a bit like navigating a boat. You constantly sense and respond to changes and find the best course while on the sea. Because of this the staff will be able to reach point B in due course.
I believe that thinking about the future in this manner lays the groundwork for an agile strategy. I believe agile strategies are more competitive than a carefully planned linear strategy. Linear strategies have an issue. Even if the organization spends a huge amount of time to plan out everything meticulously, including the end point, the strategic plan will end up becoming outdated very quickly as the world moves along. It can even be outdated tomorrow.
So, why invest so much time and money into something that easily becomes outdated? Doesn’t feel like a terribly smart idea, which is why we can circumvent these issues by creating an agile strategy instead. The most dangerous thing an organization could do with a linear plan is that it starts to believe in the plan. If belief is strong, then the organization runs the risk of losing its sensitivity to changes. People may see what is going on, but it is too difficult to adapt because the established plan takes precedence. In a sense, death by bureaucracy.
It’s a good idea to clarify the assumption, and also to challenge them. If we have a good assumption, it creates a good strategy.
If we have a bad assumption, it creates a bad strategy. It’s quite simple in the end. The challenge is that assumptions are often invisible, just hanging in the air.
Every community and company has assumptions, but they haven’t been made visible. That’s why we aren’t necessarily aware of what the strategy is being built upon.
Challenge your mantras! Whether we’re talking about a company or a community, mantras begin to form in practice. We begin to repeat the key beliefs of success. Slowly it becomes dangerous because we begin to believe them ever stronger. “You start to believe your own bullshit”, as someone brilliantly said.
It is often smart to bring in an experienced third party, because they are able to challenge with fresh input and questions. A third party also isn’t part of the inner political game, which always exists in a company.
The appropriate way of challenging could be crucially important if you wish to create a good strategy journey into the future.
Good assumptions lead to a good strategy, and a good strategy is very exciting! It’s great to be involved in executing the purpose, the sun. It’s great to be a part of the winning game. Success is a great motivator.
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Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.
We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.
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