Category Archives: Cognitive Strategy

Preparing for the change that you know is coming.

One of the constants in life, as the 5th Century BC Greek philosopher Heroclitus opined, is change. While this paraphrase of his “no man can step into the same river twice” maxim was true in his day, it is ever more relevant in 2017.

Reflect on some of the change that we have witnessed over the last few decades: the ubiquity of social media, the power of computing that we carry around with us and the cost-effectiveness of DNA testing. We’ve seen the rise of self checkouts and driverless cars. It seems we can make anything we like with 3D printers.

All of these improvements and new ways of doing things. These inventions and innovations that are impacting organisations of all types.

Whether this impact is felt in the way staff approach their job, or the speed at which new competitors arise, or the way technology can bring improvements to your business. Your organisation will continue to be affected by what is going on around you.

So, how do you prepare for what may lie ahead? How do you ensure long term success.

How do you see the risks and opportunities that lie over the horizon.

And how do you prepare yourself to either mitigate these risks or to exploit the opportunities?

In two words – use strategic thinking.

Rather than using standard strategic planning or business planning you need to dig deeper to see what is really happening.

Rather than using environmental scanning or SWOT analysis to see what is happening around you, you need to ask questions about why the change is happening.

And its called strategic thinking for a reason, because it involves thinking!

Consider say cloud computing. All of your competitors and others that you know are shifting to using these platforms. Why?

A simple answer would be that it is cheaper. It is more efficient to just buy the software to run the business rather than all the computers and staff that are needed to run the software.

But dig deeper to find a more profound answer. Ask yourself some questions about the drivers of change.

And these “drivers of change” questions about, in this case, cloud computing, may well lead to the following:

  • Is it because cloud computing can be more responsive to helping businesses respond to competitive pressures?
  • Are competitive pressures mounting because products can be brought to market quicker?
  • Can products be brought to market quicker because of more efficient market research mechanisms?

Taking that last question about efficient market feedback, what risks and opportunities are there for you?

Do you have personnel risks – that you don’t have the right people to implement the market feedback you get?

Do you have systems risks – that you don’t have the right processes in place to gather timely market feedback?

Do you have R&D risks- that you don’t have a culture that embraces innovation and bringing to market new products?

Strategic thinking is the new game in town.

Through strategic thinking you can discover, and prepare for, the risks and opportunities that are over the horizon.


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Getting the best out of what you have

Have you thought about the resources and capabilities that you have on hand, and how well you are using them?

Have you thought about how these aspects of your organisation, whether not-for-profit or a business, can help you stay in the game and be successful?

Well, when planning your strategies perhaps reflect on your own unique set of resources and capabilities using the following four attributes:

  1. value
  2. rarity
  3. imitability
  4. organization

Value. What is the value that you have? For you must have resources and capabilities of value in order to create a proposition that customers will pay for.  This value that you have must be capable of exploiting an opportunity or seeing off a potential threat. Or, on the other hand, is this resource or capability hindering your ability to respond to opportunities or threats? That is, is it a weakness?

Rarity. Do you have at your disposal an asset that is rare? That not many others have? Perhaps you own a particular segment of the market. Perhaps some of the talents that your staff have are quite unique. What about a technology that you use in your processes that not many others have.

Imitability. How easy is it for others to copy what you have? Think about the processes you have, the way your goods are produces, or the particular value that you add to your services. Can what you do be easily imitated by current or potential competitors?

Organisation. Are you geared to taking full advantage of the resources and capabilities that you have? Think about your policies and procedures. Do they stifle or do they give assistance to exploiting the value, the rarity and the imitability of what you have at hand?

For sustaining competitive advantage is about ensuring all four of these attributes are kept in strategic focus.

Dellium Advisory
For more of what I have to offer, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or review my IT-centric blog.

One tip for Fresh Thinking

Often we find ourselves “stuck in a rut”. Its like we have a sense of deja vu. That we have covered this ground before. Groundhog day!

Its like we have this problem in our business & we can’t seem to crack it. No matter what we try we can’t get new customers, we can’t break though with new products, we always seem to hit the same hurdles with respect to staff, or when our business reaches a certain size we always seem to stumble at the same point.

Well, it was well said by Albert Einstein about this need of a shift:

“we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them”

So, its obvious. To crack the problem we have, we need to try different thinking.

But isn’t the limitation that we have just one brain, and that its wired in a certain way?

Well, yes. But there are different ways to look at the problem. There are different perspectives that you can use. You can potentially crack the problem & achieve success with a changed mental approach.

And so the one tip is, use a different framework to get that fresh thinking.

For example, have you looked at the problem in terms of a system? That is, thinking through on how all the parts and variables are interlinked?

Or, have you looked at the matter through the eyes of say the “Balanced Scorecard”? Dividing the matter up into the quadrants of internal systems, training, stakeholders and finance?

And what about the risk triangle? That is risk evaluation, governance and response. By using before and after behaviours or even reflecting upon conditions before, during and after may be a useful approach.

So, its about being self aware. Understanding how you always seem to approach the matter and giving yourself space for a fresh approach.

This one tip is about being smarter, not being working harder or being more efficient.

For more, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or review my IT-centric blog.