The old saying, ‘if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there’ (Lewis Carroll dixit) its often invoked as an example of why you need a clear strategy, a clear direction. And who could argue?
The problem I find in many organizations is that they spend ridiculous time ensuring they know exactly where to go. By the time they move, that place may not be there anymore. The future (the market, the competitors, the ranking of companies, the product breakthrough) is a moving target. You need to move whilst figuring out where to move. That way you may catch up and arrive first.
Being stuck is a state of mind, a state of the organization and its people, that is worse than being wrong. Being wrong has a chance of having some people pointing you to a door open, to leave, to change. Being stuck may not even get attention. People may think that you are thinking! Fools.
Barack Obama said: ‘If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress’. I say, you don’t even need the word ‘right’. Just walk. Move. Don’t be stuck. And you’ll make good progress.
By moving you have a much more chance to discover the right path, and the wrong one, and you’ll have time to discuss their merits. Whilst moving, that is.
Reid Hoffman, father of Linkedin amongst other little adventures, said that ‘An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down’. Although I question the state of sobriety in which the statement was made, it makes the point that even in a bad path you can construct something good. But you need to move. As in falling off the cliff. Often, that kind of move.
Nothing happens in stuck mode.
Experimentation is the antidote. I am talking about experimentation of ideas, of organizational models, of access to market, of types of people you hire, of product and prototypes if this is what you do, of different and perhaps not-so-neat processes, of devolving decision making to people who have never made that kind of decision, of management teams with members who do not report to the boss, of holiday policies, of something you have never tried. For example. Al that is moving.
Thinking about it is not moving. We spend 50% of the time thinking of doing, 30% planning for doing, 20% telling people what will do, 10% doing it. That is called a good, solid, strategic planning. Solid and heavy. Exactly what you need to have around your neck when swimming.
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