“Process” probably isn’t the best word. There is no standardised 7- or 9-step process, no grand theory of everything. What I offer is a collection of tools and techniques drawn from a wide range of different fields, which we can combine to work out what to do and how to do it. The solution we arrive at will always be idiosyncratic – that is, tailored to your particular position in your markets and the strengths and weaknesses of your organisation.
The starting point will range from the very specific – how do we solve this particular problem? – to the very general – what should this business look like in five years’ time?
There are two main differences between this process and a classic strategy exercise. The first is that this process is more focussed on where we want to get to than where we are. Classic strategy offers many useful techniques for understanding where you are – or if you want to be cynical, for organising your reality into boxes – but has less to offer when it comes to generating new plans. This focus on analysis carries risks – even if you can avoid “paralysis by analysis” you can still become mentally trapped within your existing situation and find that the new ideas you come up with are just more of the same. I have a range of methods for avoiding this.
The second difference is that this process incorporates a much more up to date understanding of human psychology. Cognitive psychology has more or less exploded the idea of the rational actor or decision maker, and given us an understanding of the numerous biases we bring to the tasks of understanding complex situations and making decisions subject to risk and uncertainty. This is recent news in management circles, but well established elsewhere the CIA, for example, has been applying these insights to the task of intelligence analysis since at least the early 1980s
The outcome is:
- You will have more exciting ideas for what to do with the business;
- You will feel confident about pursuing them in ways that are more highly leveraged (i.e. offer greater impact with less effort);
- The whole process will have taken less time than you expected.
I realise that this process is hard to visualise in the abstract, but it can be demonstrated quite effectively in practice. Go here to find out about the blueprint session.