THE BETTER REASON
We all know strategies help us solve problems. We look at a situation, figure out what’s needed, then execute. So, if you’re lost in the woods, a good strategy will help you get out.
For example, a strategy like, “Innovate new products & test the market even over optimizing the status quo,” tells us to prioritize developing new products over improving old ones. And if a maxim like, “Look before you leap,” doesn’t resonate with how you normally think of a strategy, you’re not alone. It didn’t make sense to us either. But as we have practiced and reflected, we have come up with a few distinctions which are very helpful.
What we wanted from our strategy is prioritization and decision making, we found another way to get there. And this is where heuristics come in. Because detailed strategic plans are great if we trust them, but rapid change often means our maps are obsolete as soon as we draw them. Heuristics are simply rules-of-thumb which reduce the cognitive load of making a decision. They act almost like principles or values.
Rather than try to predict and force a particular future, a heuristic-strategy allow us to find where we want to go. Meaning, we’re shifting our strategy from predict-and-control to sense-and-respond. Think of how you ride a bike. Before you set off, do you figure out the precise steering angle you’ll need in each moment given the uneven terrain? No. You just go. And make thousands of micro-adjustments along the way.
The best strategy not only tells us what to do, but also what not to do. For example, while a strategy like “Delight Customers” tells us something, it’s still not very helpful. Because it’s not like we might accidentally think, “We should piss off customers.” No, and the whole point is to help us make tough decisions. Deciding between a good thing and a bad thing is easy (e.g. “Cake or death?”). But what do we do when both choices seem good? Ah! That’s when a strategy helps. Here is what we mean…
- Delight customers even over selling quickly.
- Delight customers even over following the rules.
- Delight current customers even if it means having less time to get new ones.
In all of these examples, a hard choice has already been made, which means we don’t have to think as much on-the-fly. This is why celebrated consultant and Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter said, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”
And that’s how we came to our “manifesto”, identifying contrasting positives that helps us to decide quickly, swiftly & be Agile in our operations. We use our manifesto as a force field analysis tool to evaluate how we operate, to evaluate if and how we engage with clients , to evaluate our members and potential members and so on. While there is value in the items on the right side, we value the items on the left more. Riding our bikes as we go, making thousands of micro adjustments along the way.
We prefer working as a mob and in a team, collaborating across different expertises, operating as a cross functional team.
Being able to achieve results as an individual, walk the talk, do what you say and say what you do is great. We do not want to be the single point of failure though.
Impact first mindset, continuously asking oneself how it contributes to the goal(s) set forward. Kaikaku or Flip Forward events (= significant system changes) are sometimes the best way to go.
Small steps forward
An incremental, iterative approach to change (Kaizen) is great and if a bigger change is required we prepare for it thoroughly.
Actively listen and guide in a tough and respectful way, honoring achievements of those being mentored. Work with volunteers, don't force people where they don't want to be.
Being the master
Being a recognized expert in one or multiple domains of product development is great and most of us are. We don't pretend to be a superhero though.
Own the success of those you work with. Feeling responsible to generate a positive impact. Dare to say what one needs to hear, not necessarily what one wants to hear.
Adhere to policies and rules set forward. Stay within the boundaries, make them explicit and challenge where appropriate.
Work = Play! Work made fun gets done. Do serious tasks in a light-hearted, spontaneous way and engage others to do so.
Be present. Focus on the interaction at hand. The past is history, the future is a mystery, today is a gift. Be in the moment, think about the effects of your actions and don't take it too serious.
No copy-paste solutions will be sustainable, adopt along the way by running trails.
Big bang change
Prepare well for true system changes (kaikaku events), don't try to eat the elephant though. Deep and narrow over broad and shallow.
Look for high diversity in the team(s) and use each others strengths. Diversity is the key to become your own best.
Specialisation is required to become an expert. Putting expertise at the benefit of the organisation is what makes it useful. Don't try to be a superhero.