In strategic planning, one of the hardest steps to take often is away from what we already know.
What if the product your organization has relied on so heavily for years vanished, and was replaced with something else? What if that long-term partnership dissolved, and you forged a new path forward solo? What if your funding model looked completely different three years from now?
Imaging the future is hard work. It can be scary work. But it is probably the most important, and strategic, work an organization can do.
Don’t take my word for it. Listen to Harvard Business professor Hiro Takeuchi:
“The world is in flux,” he says, “and the only constant is the drastic change that is coming. We live in an era where discontinuity is the only constant. The good old days are gone.”
If they were ever really here.
In a recent Fast Company interview, Takeuchi dismissed the notion that strategy can only be derived by external data, by looking at your competition, market or external environment. Your mission, values or the beliefs and ideals of your management or community – intuition and passion – can also be effective strategic drivers.
“There is nothing mushy about this,” Takeuchi says. “It is pure strategy.”
It doesn’t have to be an either/or conversation – hard data or soft data. Often, it’s just simply about starting the conversation in a different way.
There is huge power is starting a strategic conversation around the “soft stuff”, around the dreams and aspirations, the values and passions of your organization (read: people).
Starting with what matters is at the heart of effective strategy. Deciding what matters is at the heart of good leadership.