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The Powerful Mental Models and Mindset Shifts Underlying Successful Strategy
There is great power in "thinking differently"
Welcome back to the latest edition of the Upstream Full-Stack Journal.
Hope everyone’s summer (here in the Northern Hemisphere) is going well.
In this edition:
This week’s featured article – Basic mindset shifts to think strategically
What is Strategic Thinking?
Strategy as a Creative Act
What Makes for a Great Strategist?
Let’s dig in!
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Moving From Mystery to Confidence: 4 Ways to Embrace a Strategic Mindset
Practical shifts to make strategy part of your skillset
“Until you make your unconscious choices conscious, they will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
(adapted from Carl Jung)
In a Nutshell:
We can finally take control of our choices and solve problems effectively by understanding that strategy is:
1. A problem-solving tool
2. An integrated set of choices
3. Focused on influencing something that’s inherently out of your control
4. Fundamentally creative
But remember –
Because we’re dealing with complex, unpredictable things, Strategy can never guarantee success, but only help improve our odds
Through these mindset shifts and mental models, we can finally take control of our choices and perhaps for the first time, direct our lives and have a hand in deciding what our fate will be.
In this short piece, Roger L. Martin delves into 4 key components of strategic thinking.
One crucial insight buried deep in the piece summarizes the mindsets that prevent the ability to think strategically.
For Martin, you guarantee you won’t be a useful strategic thinker if you:
Think you are in control of all the strategic variables
Limit yourself to statistically significant quantitative data to inform your decisions
Think that you can depend on the inductive and deductive logic that you were taught to make all decisions rationally and rigorously
Think you can work through your strategy decisions sequentially, one variable at a time
Timothy Morey over at FrogDesign shares some brilliant related perspectives on analysis and planning taking over for creativity and strategy in large consultancies.
“The traditional toolkit of strategy is analytical; business schools teach strategists to ground their thinking on data.”
Morey lays out the interesting dynamics embodied by the twin directions of designers and UX people moving into strategy design, and consulting firms offering design services.
But Morey makes the case for creativity in business:
“If you want to do something that is truly new, to create value in a way that has never been done before, to lead rather than follow, and to reframe customer expectations, you need the tools of design.”
What Makes for a Great Strategist?
To round out this week’s roundup, Roger L. Martin shares this mic-drop moment, summarizing his insights gained working at the upper echelons of both strategy and design in one image:
The big takeaway for me is Strategy Mindset Don’t #3: thinking that strategy can be done by smarter people far from the client and the “work surface”:
“[the mistaken idea that] …we are better equipped to do strategy and can hand [the people doing the work] the easier task of executing our brilliant strategy. But the operators are the only ones who really know the inner workings of the business.”
That’s it for this edition!
Please continue to share your feedback and questions, and join me next time as we continue to go upstream to address challenges at their source and change the future.