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Planted 02021-10-18

Strategy is how your beliefs inform your approach. Tactics are specific actions you take to improve your outcomes.

Strategy comes from French stratégie, the “art of a general” and the Greek strategia, the “office or command of a general”.

The general is the commander of an army, strategy comes from is the art and science of military command.

Strategy is a set of specific choices made with the intent to win.

Tactics are specific actions to achieve your strategic goals.

Are you focusing on the future and not getting dragged into immediate-term concerns?

Which resource allocation choices will your work dictate, and are you making that clear to others?

Are you clear about how you can win, what it will take to win, and are you articulating this compellingly?

Can people articulate why decisions are being made or the intent they’re meant to support?

Alfred Chandler’s 1962 definitions of Strategy, Structure, and Tactics:

  • Strategy: The plan for the allocation of resources to anticipated demand.
  • Structure: The design for putting the enterprise’s existing resources against current demand.
  • Tactics: The efficient and steady use of current resources whose allocation had already been decided.

Fast learns, slow remembers.  Fast proposes, slow disposes.  Fast is discontinuous, slow is continuous.  Fast and small instructs slow and big by accrued innovation and by occasional revolution.  Slow and big controls small and fast by constraint and constancy.  Fast gets all our attention, slow has all the power. (Pace Layering: How Complex Systems Learn and Keep Learning)

Six significant levels of pace and size in the working structure of a robust and adaptable civilization.  From fast to slow the levels are:

  • Fashion/art
  • Commerce
  • Infrastructure
  • Governance
  • Culture
  • Nature 

How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built:

  • Stuff
  • Space Plan
  • Services
  • Skin
  • Structure
  • Site

How Buildings Learn

Organizational pace layers:

  • Production and execution of plans (leverage 90 days)
  • People management and training (leverage 3-12 months)
  • Annual operating plans (leverage 1-2 years)
  • Functions and capabilities as a source of advantage (leverage 2-5 years)
  • Short and long term strategy for operating units (leverage 5-10 years)
  • Corporate strategic framework, including vision, mission, and values (leverage 10-20 years)

The world is complex, and therefore difficult to reason about. Strategy intentionally omits detail in exchange for clarity. Armed with a simple narrative, mere mortals can achieve understanding, and make every-day decisions that remain aligned to that narrative.

Simplicity at its worst becomes reductive—overlooking complexity rather than tackling it, resulting in conclusions that, while admittedly simple and clear, are wrong. We cannot pretend that complex problems can always be waved away by simple statements. The process of strategy creation must indeed tackle the complexity of the world, but the output of that process is a document that frees everyone else from having to re-solve every puzzle. Like a street map, we omit detail in exchange for clarity of the most important context and routes. Simplicity that ignores reality is reductive, but simplicity that arises from an exceptional summarization of having already processed the messy, complex world, is elegant. — Jason Cohen

The map is not the territory. All models are wrong but some are useful.

Mapping the unknown

A collection of things on mapping the unknown.

Understand the Shape of the Game You’re Playing

Mapping the unknown

Wardley maps (Basics repeated)

C4 model

Rumelt’s Kernel

Every good strategy, Rumelt argues, should contain a kernel. The kernel consists of:

  1. A diagnosis that defines or explains the nature of the challenge. A good diagnosis simplifies the often overwhelming complexity of reality by identifying certain aspects of the situation as critical.
  2. A guiding policy for dealing with the challenge. This is an overall approach chosen to cope with or overcome the obstacles identified in the diagnosis.
  3. A set of coherent actions that are designed to carry out the guiding policy. These are steps that are coordinated with one another to work together in accomplishing the guiding policy.

Presentation Elements

  • Diagnosis: what’s the current state? what needs to change? what do you want? What’s the real challenge here for you? Where are you now? Why? What is the compelling problem we want to solve?
  • Guiding principle: What better future do we seek to make? What will we do? frame the solution, shape it, compress it, give it a metaphor, make it count.
  • Coherent actions: Theory of change. What could you do? What’s the solution we envision to achieve that better future?
    • Coherent: What is standing in your way? What’s stopping you from achieving the better future?
  • Estimate impact: What’s the business case? Show me the money. expose your assumptions and model if we invest $X then we’ll get $Y in return.