Before you go to the trouble of learning anything about strategy, you might want to consider whether it is worth the trouble.
What is the big deal?
Consider first, that you probably do not know the answer. Why not´? Because few if any of us are taught what strategic thinking is. There are no “strategy 101” classes, let alone “intermediate strategy” or “advanced strategic thinking” courses on offer at university. Not having any in depth understanding of what strategy is, we are not in a very good position to judge its value in our lives.
So what is strategy? The short answer is that it is the cognitive process that we employ to generate action in the face of the unknown.
So why would that be important? Consider that since the enlightenment, the west has come to accept and even need acceleration of discovery. We call it “innovation”. We do not know what types of innovations are available nor how they will affect how we live.
And in the 21st century, innovation, for example in AI, will radically change how we live.
Time for strategic thought on how we would like to live?
I thought you might agree.
Peter Drucker said that things that cannot be measured cannot be improved. And, as usual, he was right.
But to measure you need to (1) select what you should be measuring (the metric) (2) track data over time, and (3) assess the measurements. That three step process is at the heart of modern efficiency building and Fred Wilson is right to advocate for more applications of it.
Strategic thinking is not about getting by. Nor is it about any single solution to your problems – the so called “magic bullet”. BTW, I believed for many years that you could find a magic bullet to make life easy. Öops! Trust me on this one, any such thing is temporary at best.
But strategic thinking is about making things better. And the first step in getting into strategic thinking is to practice imagining things better. You need to be able to see it before you start doing stuff. After you start seeing better, then you can start thinking about what to do to make things better.
Got that? Here is an article that might help
this opening paragraph by Michael Schrage writing for HBR, is rather provocative
Almost every world-class, high-performance organization takes training and education seriously. But Navy SEALs go uncomfortably beyond. They’re obsessive and obsessed. They are arguably the best in the world at what they do. Their dedication to relentless training and intensive preparation, however, is utterly alien to the overwhelming majority of businesses and professional enterprises worldwide. That’s important, not because I think MBAs should be more like SEALS—I don’t—but because real-world excellence requires more than commitment to educational achievement.
Whether you read it from a corporate or institutional perspective or an individual perspective, the article is worth a look. In part because you get to learn what the Navy SEALs do. More fundamentally, it is because the article highlights the importance of embracing a training philosophy to be successful at what you do in life.
So do you have a training philosophy? Good question, that!
Sir Kenneth Clark on the start of the renaissance in Florence
Life, the full use of the human faculties, became more important than making money
FC has a nice article today about a course at Stanford called “Designing your Life” . The article gives a brief overview, and then discusses the pros and cons to the approach.
I think this is pretty great — as students get too little help in figuring out how they can use what they are learning in the real world. This can be seen as a design question and I like using the “design” word. But how do you do a life design?`Well, in fact, you do it using strategic tools.
We are talking about life design here in Tartu and I hope we will put together a fun short course soon. If you are interested, let me know!