Increasing complexity exists more than ever in today’s business environment. It makes sense then that anticipating and preparing for the future provides a critical advantage towards your company’s success.
If you ask people how they define strategy, you will get multiple answers. There is no definitive answer about what strategy really is. And there are different levels of strategy – strategy at the corporate level. Strategy for business units. Team strategy.
Some business theorists believe that strategy involves examining the past and present in order to forecast changes in the market and from this plan how you will succeed by determining the firm’s long-term scope and direction. Others say that strategy should determine the right combination of resources and competencies required to achieve competitive advantage – establishing how you will “win in the period ahead.”
Whatever your definition of strategy, there is one important thing that is rarely discussed but must be developed in order to create a strategic plan that is strong and robust: Self-Awareness.
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We’re distracted. Too many things come at us at the same time – knocks on the door, emails, texts, endless tickers on CNN — tsunamis of information we can’t make sense of with little time for reflection. We’ve forgotten how to hit the pause button. We are less inclined to observe.
Yet if you are not observing in an accurate, acute way, you will miss things. When you miss things, your strategy will not be vigorous.
At the heart of Generative Strategy is the deepening of your personal awareness. Doing so leads to a new level of observing everything going on inside and outside of you — integrating those experiences into your strategic plan.
The very first step in this process is to observe, observe, observe. It is said three times because it is that important. The reason most of us can’t do it is because we’re too distracted; but people can be taught to observe in a way that is most useful. Practices like meditation or being out in nature for example hugely affect your capacity to observe – clearing your mind and heart in order to see things differently or in a way that others cannot see. Similar to polishing the lens of a camera, engaging in such practices helps you to see things through different eyes, taking that snapshot back into the strategy circle with a deeper understanding about current reality and headwinds you’re facing.
Most people carry their prejudices, fears, stresses and worry into the “observing phase”, clouding the issues at hand. Practices like meditation and being in nature help you to calm down and see things more clearly, increasing your capacity to observe current reality with less judgment and confusion.
Another benefit to developing your self-awareness is that over time, it allows you to better trust your instincts instead of continuously relying on your linear mind. Often times, we don’t trust our intuition; but if we can learn to do this, those small internal voices that show up inside of you – this deeper way of knowing – plays a major role in how you develop your strategy, especially in the context our current business world – a world that is ridden with complexity, uncertainty and change.
Deepening personal awareness; releasing limiting belief systems; scanning the business environment; identifying the driving forces at work and the resulting chains of cause and effect; accessing insights beyond the mind’s previous reach; and acting in the moment are crucial. Using these principles, an individual or team charged with maintaining the overall strategic direction of their firm can learn to formulate and implement strategy in parallel – rather than sequentially – creating a continuous cycle of learning and action – “beating the path as you walk it.”
And check out our short video about Generative Strategy