A while ago, I was told an anecdote about an MBA student who returned to their alma mater for a reunion. They greeted the Dean. “Dean, remember graduation day? You were on stage trying to drive the long procession of students at a pace to get our diplomas. We were both slow and overwhelmed. From the corner of the stage you kept telling us in your deep voice: “Keep moving! Keep moving!” You know, Dean? That was the best business advice given to me in all those three years. This is what I have been doing since.”
A less kind version of the anecdote says: “I don’t remember much of the MBA, but I do remember the ‘keep moving’ of the graduation”.
So, this is the core of my ‘Keep Moving’ strategy. I use the ‘keep moving’ story (and the strategy) a lot. Many times, we get stuck in organizational life (or, is it ‘life’?). Roads have too many bifurcations. The uncertainty of the journey, too high. We don’t have all the facts. We have contradictory views from people. We don’t quite know for sure where we are going. And as Lewis Carroll told us, ‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there’.
That’s right, keep moving!
I know that some people may think, that this is crazy. We really need to know – they say – otherwise the movements may not be in the right direction. Sure! I have a lot of sympathy for this. But, at the extreme, this is the justification for the perfect Strategic Plan, the perfect Mission and Vision statements, the perfect ‘lets have all pieces in place before we move’.
The Perfect Strategy First, is lethal. There is no such thing. I am all for the good intellectual and emotional diagnosis of situations, and rigorous planning of business execution and solutions. But never, never, at the cost of immobility. Keep moving, or start moving. The road will become clearer. Some of those assumptions in the Strategic Plan will go out of the window soon. Some early customer insights may modify your thinking. You will never discover any of these from a static strategic plan department.
Wearing my behavioural sciences hat, the advice (‘keep moving’) will be the same. Action is the best cure, even if you don’t know 100% in which direction. Inaction is never the answer. Only when you ‘keep moving’ will you discover the roads. If in doubt, do anything but stand still.
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