Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Go wild in strategic making

I am a believer that just as the life is versatile and often emotional, organizational strategic making sometimes means ambiguity, confusion, and struggle. This is especially true for many startups, which focus more on internal skill building. However, when small businesses grow too fast, founders often find themselves unready for the company size. 

After Google went public, Larry Page once fired all the project managers, which was such a controversial move. He was luckier than Jobs that he was not fired by company built by himself. Page continued to have controls over Google and was able to work on Android development. After 10 years’ introspective exploration and experiments, he eventually became mature as a leader (, working with diverse individuals and launching several great innovations) and repositioned Google. The vision is clear and indeed ambitious: understand every want and need. Nowadays, Google has invested in self-driving cars, artificial intelligence (robotics) and aerospace, etc. 

“Ample time for skepticism will come later; for now, it must suspend judgement.”

Why do I mention Google? Page probably didn't have a chance reading Bring Science to the Art of Strategy. The undoubtedly legendary leader, however, possesses one important characteristic in strategic making: broaden all the possibilities before showing them to skepticism. What if P&G considered all the barriers and potential obstacles before exploring the possibilities? What if Google has a conservative leader, who is not willing to take risks? What if a non-technical student, who only focuses on current skills? P&G probably would have never established a high-end cosmetic brand. Google glass would have never been launched. Many students would have never studied at Carnegie Mellon and later worked in hi-tech companies. 

However, most people may unconsciously assessing risks at an early stage and be scared away by barriers. A systematic approach, such as this seven-step approach, becomes a great exercise. The article further suggests that reframe a skepticism as a condition. “For example, the critique ‘[customers] will never accept differential pricing’ becomes the condition, ‘[this] requires that customers accept differential pricing’.” This practice has a profound implication in daily decision making as well. 

Many students come to MISM program with little analytical background, and want to be data analysts after graduation. This is a very ambitious career choice with their previous skills. However, we can lay out all the conditions to become a data analyst: a solid programming skill in one language, an understanding of business environment, and some financial knowledge. How to develop those skills and knowledge? Through a program mixed of business and technology, for example, MISM. With the seven steps, this career path becomes less ambiguous and more tangible. However, many young people may walk away, when first seeing the job description for data analyst.

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