Strategy – An Individual Perspective

20151104_145813Most of us work within an organizational strategy that we had no involvement in creating. There is nothing wrong with this, it makes sense and most of us are quite happy to contribute to that strategy. It also means we are subject to the impacts of that strategy, good, bad or neutral and we have very little control over that as well. We also have very little control over the strategies of our organization’s competitors, customers, governments and the myriad other things that are part of our organizational experience.

However we do have a fair bit of control over one of the most important things of our organizational experience – ourselves. Ok, that may sound an awful lot like complete rational causality but please just let it ride for now… transformative causality is important here too….

The really good thing with this situation is that we can take an individual perspective on strategy. What is even better is that individual perspective can be much more closely aligned with how strategy was treated and acted upon before it became so severely constrained by certainty. As we have noted in previous posts that approach was:

The start point was excellence, the time frame was quite short and the opportunities were more opportunistic than planned.

Another important point to remind ourselves of is that certainty was not assumed. I cannot overemphasize how important this is at an individual level. It gets us, as individuals out from under this heavy weight of certainty and it is only at an individual level that we have the actual power to make the choice to get out from under this weight.

In order to look a little closer at an individual perspective on strategy let’s split the approach in bold above into its three components:

  1. The start point is excellence
  2. The time frame is quite short
  3. Opportunities are more opportunistic than planned

The start point is excellence.

From an individual perspective strategy starts with excellence. Trying to be the very best we can be at what we do, regardless what that is. It’s pretty simple, personal and individual if we don’t burden the effort with certainty. It’s nothing more than doing our best to become the very best we can be at whatever we do.

Historically this was the start point of strategy, so by choosing to do this we, as individuals are being strategic. It’s also the one thing we can do that we have the most control over that will buffer us against all the normal uncertainty in our organizational experience.

Whatever tools or techniques we may need/want to strive for excellence should be accessed but be cautious that most of those existing techniques or tools will be founded on the idea that power creates certainty and the power you need is located in the tool! If we discard that assumption many techniques and tools have value. More than anything however, this is a choice, an important intention in the interaction model.

Interaction Model

The time frame is quite short.

Strategy is process of movement, it is interactive. If we choose an intention of excellence it feeds back into our interactions which means others are involved in that intention of excellence through our various gestures and responses. This keeps our intention centered in the present, a shorter time frame. We are then creating a pattern of behavior for ourselves (the left loop) that is informed by our intention of excellence. And since we are more focused and serious about our day to day interactions (our gestures and responses) than anything else we are smack dab in the middle of transformative causality.

Opportunities are more opportunistic than planned.

With an intention of excellence seen as a process of movement driven through our day to day interactions opportunities WILL emerge, positive ones, negative ones and neutral ones. That is what transformative causality does. This is strategy at its best I think, the capacity to recognize the opportunities available and then choose which to act on. Interestingly, it is also at the individual level where strategy, understood like this is most possible. It is at an individual level where we can set aside the typical ways of understanding strategy and align it much more closely with our actual experiences.

Keep in mind that the above does not guarantee success, however defined. It does mean we are actively engaging with our day to day interactions and taking them seriously, informed by our intention of excellence. The entire interaction model will be at play, in all its paradoxes. It also means we are doing the one thing, the one thing we have the most control over that helps us accept and who knows, perhaps even thrive in the uncertainty we exist in.

There is much less OUCH!

Above I mentioned the use of tools and techniques to help us focus on an intention of excellence. I’m going to devote the next post to one conceptual, or thinking tool that I have found very valuable in recognizing personal choice (rational causality) into our organizational experience which is so dominated by the assumption of formative causality. Then we will move onto strategy at group and organization levels.

Comment and discussion points for this post:

  1. Much current content on individual strategy mimics the thinking of organizational strategy; set a distant goal and do not waver in your will to achieve it. Do you think this is a good approach to individual strategy?
  2. What is your individual approach to strategy?



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