A bad strategy is not better than no strategy at all, because it's just as likely to lead you down a road you don't want to be on. Learn how to create informed strategies based on methods of thinking you can incorporate into your daily life, such as design thinking, taking note of competitors, and bringing in the perspective of unlikely voices.
- Strategy's important, but here's the thing, it has to be an informed strategy. You can't input faulty assumptions and expect something amazing to just come out of it because you're being strategic. Here are three ways you can become smarter and more nuanced in your strategic thinking. First, recognize that good strategy doesn't have to be innovative. Sure, sometimes it is, and it can be transformative. Everyone would like to invent the next iPhone. But good strategy, as the professor and author Richard Rumelt has said, is about making choices.
And those choices don't necessarily have to be something unique, that the world has never seen. Look at history. Review past examples and see what's worked before. That might provide a useful guide for you. Look at what your competitors are doing. There's probably a pretty good reason for it. Now, depending on what that reason is, you may want to copy them or you may want to circle around and do something completely different, but either way, you want to be aware of and informed by what they're doing. Second, think about future trends in your industry. What do you suspect from your research and general knowledge of the field that the next breakthrough in your industry is going to be, then ask yourself will I or my company most likely achieve this breakthrough or will a competitor, and why? That can help you understand where you may be under-investing and should reallocate your resources or your focus.
If you have an intuition about where things are going, you might as well position yourself to try to get there first. Third and finally, make sure you're soliciting input from diverse sources. It's tempting to fall back on what's easy, relying on your own opinion or a tight little circle of people from inside your company, the usual suspects. But that's not how you get the best insights, or the smartest answers. What about the actual users of the product or service you're designing? What do they think and what would they find valuable? Can you ask them, or go out into the field and learn from them? What about people who are in your orbit, but wouldn't necessarily weigh in? The interns or the accounting staffer, whomever.
The problem with strategic blind spots is you really are blind. You literally have no idea you're missing something so you don't even know to look for it. But if you deliberately make it a practice to bring in new voices and new perspectives, you mitigate against that risk and give yourself a far better chance of uncovering blind spots. If you want to develop good strategies, if you want your strategic thinking to be well-informed, then following these practices can make a big difference.
- Embracing the strategic mindset
- Making time
- Learning from the past
- Getting details right
- Strategic thinking with a team
- Measuring success