As with many things, it is much easier to write about good strategy making than to actually do it.
Every strategist and every business needs to make up his own guiding theme that gives him direction in the wide field of strategy making. I found mine a long time ago. A professor used a quote in one of his strategy lectures during my MBA course:
Some companies make things happen.
Some companies see things happen.
Some companies wonder that things happen.
He finished with the question “To which group do you want your business to belong?”
These few lines taught a few important lessons:
- It is always the best option to take an active role, to shape events, processes and circumstances in your favor.
- If this isn’t possible, you should at least see what happens – meaning here realize what’s going on, understand it and make the best use of it.
- You are most probably doomed to failure if you just wonder that something has happened. By the time you have noticed the change, there won’t be many options left for you.
I read a very interesting article from John Hagel III this week – The big shift in strategy Part 1 and Part 2. In the first of the two, he writes a few sentences that perfectly complement and support the above quote:
Playing a wait and see game in the hope that things will become clearer over time can be very dangerous. By the time you see what’s happening, it may be too late to do anything about it. Fast followers in an exponential world will increasingly find that they are on a path to the grave.
The message is again that you should not wait until you see what’s happening. You should be the one who shapes what’s happening. The same message comes up in the second part of this article:
Rather than just focusing on which future is most probable, ask which future is most attractive to the company in terms of positioning it to capture a disproportionate share of economic value. Then ask what actions the company might take to increase the likelihood of that future and to ensure that it is positioned in the most attractive part of the market.
Given the fact that John Hagel III writes about shifts in strategy that became necessary because our business environment became more unstable faster and uncertain, the old anonymous quote about companies that make or see things happen is more actual than ever before.
I guess the decision to make things happen instead of waiting until you see things happen is quite a reasonable approach to strategy making.