Part of strategic thinking is about identifying capacities – your own and others. That sounds easy, but there is a trick here. What is a capacity? Well, it is nothing until you have an agenda. Throwing a ball accurately is not a capacity until you put in the agenda of a sport like basketball or baseball or football. So to be able to identify capacities, we have to be sensitive to the agendas that are just under the surface.
And now things get interesting. We know from psychologists that humans tend to create narrow agendas. We are not very good as a species on taking in multiple options. Instead, we like to zero in on … the thing in front of us. For that reason, our capacities also tend to be narrowly defined. We move from generalists to specialists. From country doctor to neurosurgeon.
So far so good. Neurosurgeons are great when you need brain surgery. But neurosurgeons are not so great at talking about stuff that is outside of their knowledge and skill sets. So you might think of the capacity of the human race to solve problems as incredibly fragmented. We have incredible expertise all around us, but in relatively narrow areas. That is our weak link.
How to get around this? Well we will need to learn how to connect folks between specialties. One way to do that is via pyramid search. It is an interesting concept that HBR describes. You might think of it as a tactic to identify relevant expertise. Or you might think of it as a strategic tool to build more efficient platforms. Or you might think of it as a key component of a business model.