Strategic Ambition as a Value Source

Strategy means reframing reality in poetic terms, and to do that, one needs a poetic vision. The reality to reframe is not an imaginary one but an immediate one. It is what you see, and how you feel now, in the present, that you want to change. The future is the change you make to the present, and this is what poetic visionaries know.

All great leaders had and have poetic vision: Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Bill Gates, Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Che Guevara, Richard Branson, Barak Obama. This is not the ability to imagine, but the ability to understand with your heart. See, look, feel and understand with your heart.[1] Strategy is not about predicting the future, but about having foresight. Not about natural science, but about human science: the choices individuals make, have much more weight on the shape of the future, than any technology by itself. Foresight seeks to discover the signals that create the patterns of emergence, the seeds announcing the presence of a new behavior space. The capability to map a signal in its earliest stages, accelerates our understanding of the possibilities resident in it, and allows for the appropriate course of action to be chosen. An appropriate course of action will maximize the opportunity—or minimize the threat—for both the individual and the organization. That is strategy in its purest expression.

To maximize any opportunity, we must first recognize the different nature of a new variable at the strategic level, understand what must be redefined, enhanced and expanded in our business models, once a new behavior enters a behavior space. One needs to understand the change agent of the business context. The new possibilities are the result of an emerging context, the development of which is not necessarily of our choosing, but rather a convergence of multiple agents, sometimes unrelated, working toward the same goals, and in the same technology spaces. Once the context has changed—no matter how imperceptible at first—an organization's strategic intent needs to change as well.

  • [1] Bang and Olufsen's Product Development Credo, circa 1999.
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