Monday, February 5, 2018

Strategy and the Worlds of Thought & Experience

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Strategy, like all problem solving, entails moving fluidly between the worlds of Thought & Experience.

We begin by trying to understand our core problem in the world of thought. We reflect on core strategic questions such as:

  • What happened last year, and why?
  • What worked, what did not work, and why?
  • What do our customers expect of us?
  • What do we need to achieve this year?
  • What are our biggest obstacles?
  • What’s changed in our environment?
  • How capable is our team & our processes?

We use analytical tools like the ‘Q7’ and ‘New 7’ Quality Tools to begin to dispel the fog. Based on our understanding of our customers, organization, industry, technology etc. we begin form hypotheses around the core questions. (A professor pal tells me this is called ‘deductive reasoning’.)

Now we’re ready to ‘go see’ the world of experience. We want to sample as much of this world as we can. In a large organization, we should visit as many sites as possible. Stand in a circle if you can, as Taiichi Ohno suggest, until you see what’s actually happening. Then go somewhere else and do the same. It’s akin to crossing a river by jumping stone to stone, lingering a while at each. The more we sample, the more likely we are to grasp the underlying situation. (My pal tells me this is ‘inductive reasoning’.)

We then return to the world of thought to define the strategic problem (What Is Actually Happening & What Should Be Happening), what’s preventing us, and what we might do about it.

This movement between thought & experience is central to strategy and problem solving in general.

We need to be comfortable in both worlds - one hand digging deep into the earth, the other reaching for the sky.

Thought without action is lifeless. Action without thought is aimless.



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