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si: introduction

Step by step we are building a model that enables us to upgrade strategic decision making and that encompasses the various packages of decisions that confront us in life. At the most basic level is the package that OPENS THE DOOR TO ACTION  ( the basic strategic thinking course). It is critical to become active in order to unleash our creativity, so it is easy to see why moving from an inactive or passive to an active pose makes sense. Taking a step up, is the package of decisions that enables us to connect our agendas with others USING COMMUNICATION as a tool (the strategic communication course). No one lives in a vacuum, so mastering these tools is a must. We can take this a step further by addressing this question – how do build our capacity to ADD VALUE  through what we learn and share in life? That is the focus of this short course. It challenges to play the STRATEGIC INNOVATION GAME.

Where to start? As always, our intellectual adventure starts with a question. What do I mean by “adding value”?

In order to answer this, we need a model of “value” that enables us to distinguish value from its opposite. First, let’s agree on a very simple observation – value is not a tangible thing itself. It is instead an interpretation of what tangible and intangible things offer us in a given context.

value = relative importance

For example, while we trudge under the hot sun through a vast desert, water may offer more value to us than a huge block of gold that  is too heavy to carry..  Building on this example, we can see that value has several dimensions. One dimension is in the effect things have on us. Big effects or more precisely, critical effects add high value. Trivial effects add less value. When we are thisty, water offers a critical effect and value. And as I have already alluded to, there is one more dimension. These effects are important because of the certain context that they fit into. So a a renowned artist, let’s say Rembrandt, would seem to be highly valuable. That might be because of the pleasure one gets from viewing it or perhaps just the knowledge that it be sold for quite a tidy sum that might increase even more. Or both.  The key point is that understanding the context is critical to being able to see possible substitutions and hence, more precise value measurements.

value depends on effects in context

So how to measure effects in context? If we can do that, we can make more effective decisions that add effects that match contexts at the highest levels. That will preoccupy us in our first session of strategic innovation.

So what goes into those measurements? This is something that entrepreneurs must learn. They offer goods and/or services that they believe are highly desired by others in a given context. To do that, they must be highly sensitive to valuations of those goods and services. How do entrepreneurs learn what is needed in various contexts? Asking the question that way illuminates that this is learned by connecting with people in those contexts. It is a social process. We will be taking a close look at that social process later on in this course. As we will see, satisfying those needs using the best knowledge and skills available at that given moment is the last phase of the innovation process.

For now, let’s assume for a moment that we have learned what is needed in a given context. We cannot produce the effects that are needed without a thing that does that for us. We call those things products or services. Using shorthand, we might think of this next to last stage of strategic innovation as creating those products or services. that includes building prototypes and upgrading products to meet demand.

So what is needed to build a prototype? Before we do that, we need to know what capacities match what people want. The capacities will be translated into the thing the product or service does. The demand measures the effect of that thing that fits what others do or want to do.

This can be a subtle thing. Henry Ford, foer example, believed that he understood the capacity that matched what people wanted from cars – cheap transport. In fact, Ford missed another capacity — status of ownership. The car as part of lifestyle. Ooops!

so where do we find these capacities? This is found through a process of discovery. The discoveries may be of new ideas or in how to combine existing ideas in new ways. Think of discovery as the fuel that powers all of the above. We want to open to and good at discovery.

Now we know what we need to learn about.

1. How to maximize our potential to generate discoveries?

2. How to maximize our capacity to translate discoveries into desired capacities?

3. How to translate our desire capacities into prototypes?

4. How to build business models that squeeze out the value added from the products and services that we offer?

lets start with discovery.


Building Short Courses

You can think of strategy as the key to learning new knowledge The best way to learn is to teach.

With that in mind, you might ask yourself, how many courses have you built and taught — about the things you are trying to learn?

Good question! Most of us would answer, “none”.  Mea culpa. I am starting on a new path in this blog, where I will be building courses around some core ideas

  • What – what do I want to learn
  • Structure – how do I structure the course to teach it
  • Materials – where do I find the core knowledge that I need to apply
  • Content  – how do I fill out the course with great content
  • Test – How do I test myself to level up

You can remember this by What Smart Man Can Teach?


Start by Solving Problems

Let’s say that you have experienced a great st back. it has wiped you out. You have no job, connections and no apparent opportunities. After you get over the shock, the question arises, what to do?

Many would retreat into themselves. Pout. Complain. It is natural. And of course, it will not get you very far.

To get started again, you need a certain amount of conviction that enables you to translate beliefs into action. Where do these come from? The answer, according to Great Satell, is to develop a problem solving mentality.  that mentality gives you  a learning tool to re-connect with other people.

How does one develop this? Think of it as a learning challenge. We need to break this down into tasks and then find ways to master the most important tasks first (Tim Ferriss). So how about this for a breakdown.

  • identifying problems
  • developing  conviction around potential solutions
  • experimenting to test potential solutions
  • packaging solutions into lifestyle
  • sharing solutions

The more one practices each of these steps, the better one gets at them.

Following the Strategic path

Over the last several years, there has been a lot of thinking about something called “life design”. The idea is that one can apply enlightened design thinking to decisions that shape who you are over time. Not just career planning but life planning.

I ascribe to the idea that life is too precious a thing to just do without reflection.So Ilike this new school of thought. At the same time, I am also a bit wary of its vocabulary. One designs things. Whether those things are tangible things, like cars, or abstract things, like models. You are bot a thing.

Or I might say that you are a thing in motion. You are a series of activities promoted by decisions that you make either consciously or subconsciously. To become a “better you” you need to work on designing those paths and tracking and reflecting on the flow of thinking that following the path produces.

This is strategic thinking in its purest form.

When Do We Frame a question?

We are at work here thinking through the starting point for strategy.  Why bother? Because if we get the starting point right, our analysis has a much higher chance of getting us somewhere. Get the starting point wrong, and we may develop great answers to the wrong question.

Our work so far has taken us to the challenge of making framework decisions. These are decisions that we need to base further activity upon. We do not want to get these wrong.

As an aside, we might think, for example, that “civilization” is a process of building on shared framework decisions.

What does a solid framework look like?

I would suggest that the best frameworks are predictive. In other words, they allow us to test their value based upon observations of future events. Scientific method is a tool that we use to make framework decisions about the nature of reality. If gravity is a force that exerts an attractive force on a mass, then if I  hump out of an airplane, I should fall to the ground. Simple enough.

But things get a bit weird when we seek to predict how humans will act. As a species, we are capable of creating our own interpretations of what is important. We are free to do so. And as a result, foundation decisions about people will always be less predictive than we might like. Perhaps this is why the advance of civilization has been so jerky – up and down.

And perhaps this is why humans, by and large, are such terrible decision makers. We are reluctant to set aside our beliefs in reality, even when we see evidence that they are wrong.  We suffer from cognitive biases.

If we wish to build strategic decision making capacity, it may not be such a bad idea to accept this as a fundamental aspect of being human. We are prone to interpret reality in ways that are consistent with our beliefs. We must live with our cognitive biases.

If so, foundation decisions that rely upon personal belief are the most suspect. Are there other types that have a stronger foundation?`Of course. If all humans are subject to the same  cognitive biases, framework decisions based upon what others believe to be true are more likely to predict how they will act. Why? Because those people will hold onto those beliefs no matter what.

So strategic framework decisions focus on identifying and using shared beliefs with in groups. If you can identify a belief, you can make a framework decision about how that belief will affect what people will do over time.

Getting started with a strategic question, then, is less about me than about seeing the beliefs that drive other people to act.