Saturday, November 27, 2010

Only one route?

Decisions and results

Everything we do is a decision, whether it is a conscious decison or not it is still a decision. Doing nothing or doing something else is also a decision.
Every decision we make whether it is conscious or by default, changes what is going to happen next and therefore is going to have an impact on whatever the outcome will be.
Complex? We have only just got started.
Now think about everybody else making decisions and how they interact and create emergent properties and situations. The current financial situation is one such emergent situation. No one (I hope) planned for this to be the outcome and yet it occurred - as a result of a complex matrix of decisions and actions people made.
What ever happens next will likewise emerge as a result of the complex interconnected web of decisions and actions we are all making right now.

The problem with most strategies

As you can imagine with this level of complexity it is impossible to really predict what is going to happen in three weeks time let alone three years time. Most strategies are made based on history and our current understandings of not only what is happening but how things work.
As we are finding out, how things work now is not how they used to work, just like what is happening now is not the same as what happened before. Sure we can see the similarities, but it is different.
And yet, most strategies are singular. This is what we want, this is how we will get there and this is likely what we need. One goal, one route, one strategy.

When I am working with clients I insist they do at least 5 strategies. One for the worst possible outcome and set of decisions/events. One for the best. One for average and two either side of the average, Quite good and quite poor.

It is amazing how more inclusive the strategies become. However much more importantly, people can see how day-to-day decisions and emergent and unforeseen events are tied to emergent futures. How one decision can set a business or enterprise off on a particular road. This starts to help businesses do three things that are the mantra of Special Forces around the world:
  1. Adapt,
  2. Improvise, and
  3. Overcome.
Who really knows what is around the corner? It is the most adaptable, creative and resilient organisations and people that win in ambiguous times. Having a flexible and living strategy that allows people to improvise, innovate and make good decisions is vital.

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