Monday, January 8, 2018

Reflections on True North

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

A New Year, and a new strategic cycle. Strategy begins with our strategic & philosophical Purpose, also known as True North.

True North comprises:
  1. a "Hard" goal, usually entailing critical end-of-pipe measures, e.g. Revenue, EBIT, fatalities, and,
  2. a "Broad-brush" goal (hoshin), a few words defining our purpose, vision, commitment
I encourage leaders to draw a picture of where we want to be, how we’ll get there, and how we will go about our business.

The business chessboard is foggy, multi-dimensional, and unpredictable. Why bother to define a distant, uncertain future?

Because doing so forces us out of the rut of our current thinking. We engage dormant neural pathways thereby, and begin to see the clear blue sky of what's possible.

True North is also the ‘tie-breaker’, to which we turn for guidance at critical moments. “Is this who we are? Is this where we’re going and how’ll we get there?”

True North will tell us. For example, imagine we are a designer & manufacturer of high-end lighting solving challenging technical problems in high-margin niche markets. Our hoshin is Speed Style Invention. Now suppose a major automotive company, say Toyota, approached us and said, “We’d like you to manufacture lighting for our next Lexus model.”

How would we respond? The answer is clear, no? “We’ll have to decline, with great respect, because that’s not what we do, that’s not who we are.”

Our annual plans will be simple & modular one-pagers that express our hypotheses. We’re often wrong, but we adjust quickly. Life never goes according to plan. Clear hypotheses & modular plans enable the rapid PDCA cycles that’ll dispel the fog & get us closer and closer to True North.

Strategy Deployment is messy, humbling, intuitive, a marriage between the Right & Left brain, between intuition & logic, art & science.

I'm reminded of Jack Nicklaus, perhaps the greatest golfer ever, whose swing routine always entailed imagining the perfect shot.

Or of Michelangelo seeing the perfect sculpture in the marble block.

Have a good year, all,


No comments:

Post a Comment