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Katherine Warman Kern

Thank you for articulating this so clearly.

Before I read the next post, I'd like to build on what you have said above. The evolution from "big terrain strategy" to "competency terrain strategy" has been a long and iterative process. As a result, I believe the most significant hubris effecting economic growth today is not realizing how risk averse we have become.

You have kept your focus on the positive instead of criticizing and that's the way forward. So I will try to make the following point in the same spirit.

There are two kind of unknowns we face. There are the unknown possibilities. And there are the unknown risks.

I believe that leaders are chilled by instinctive reaction that the risks outweigh the possibilities. There is good reason.

There are two kinds of risks. The risks we can't predict and the risks that have been created by flawed assumptions made in the past but have been accepted as "givens". Even the business leaders who know better, know that they can't control the media, wall street, competitors, etc. who perpetuate these myths.

But the timing is right for courage. The customer is business leader's ally. While business has been avoiding risk, customers are taking more and more risks sharing their personal data to get new, inventive stuff.

Sure some business leaders look at that and say they do it because it is free or cheap.

Others like APPLE see the desire for "better stuff" and make better stuff worth paying for with dollars instead of personal data. [By the way, even if it means cannibalizing the better stuff people paid for a few years before (when was the last time you used an I-POD).]

The timing is right for a new strategic perspective.


Dear John

As you can see, I have just borrowed your tweet:

The stated problem is never really the problem - @simpletonbill captures 99% of client problems in 3 charts or less http://bit.ly/1x2NGz2

I did it to make this one:

Jose A Vanderhorst S @gmh_upsa - Equating @jhagel current landscape to 2 yr ago comfort zone, reinforces repeal of DR's Strategy Law http://bit.ly/671GMH | @simpletonbill

One part of the story behind it is that I suggested two years ago that the Dominican Republic's National Strategic Development law be repealed to get the private sector out of its comfort zone and into the where the magic is, which is the future landscape.

Somewhat related to the Big Shift I used Black Zwans negative and positive, which apply depending on which landscape we are.

Happy Holidays,

José Antonio Vanderhorst Silverio
Consulting engineer on electric sector systems architecting.

James Drogan

Implicit here is the call for a new kind of actor with new capabilities (knowledge, skills, experiences, attitudes, and behaviors).

Whence these actors?

Part of the answer is the education systems of society. I wonder whether they are up to the task. In America, K-12 is increasingly suspect and I wonder whether higher education is not on the same path.

Daniel Pink once remarked, as I understand it, that the problem with higher education is it prepares students for the professor's past, not the student's future.

James Drogan

It seems to me you are calling for a new actor possessing capabilities (knowledge, skills, experiences, attitudes, and behaviors) that are not all that common.

Whence these actors? The obvious answer is the education system. However, K-12 is suspect in this regard and I'm developing serious doubts as to whether higher education is up to the task. I heard the Daniel Pink described the problem with higher education as one where professors taught the students about their past, not about the students' futures.


Intriguing perspective on change! When thinking of *strategies of trajectory* I'm reminded of David Snowden's Cynefin model where the action of the Complex domain (complex, emergent) is characterized as - 'probe.sense.response'.

It seems we may need to learn to inhabit that complex emergent domain, experimenting/prototyping (probing) in order to translate what we see as the emerging patterns of change into the 'analyze.sense.respond' Knowable territory where insights can be actualized.

Look forward to next segment for strategies on how to accomplish this!

Jean Russell

I really appreciate what you are getting to with this post John. I suspect having a sense of how we, as a company, perceive and address time, is a factor of great leading companies. And I have my fingers crossed that the next post(s) talk about envisioning creative possibilities to work toward and not just more risk management that will spiral us down into mitigation of our worst fears.

Fenia Petran


This is a very important, conceptual and fundamental article.

It defines the basics of the strategy to go from where we are today to where we want and need and could being tomorrow.

It also defines the need to shift our attention to the future trajectory.

However, many of us are still tied to the present. And we must clear the table before we can start going into the future.

There are commitments for products and services that we took in the past and business partners and customers in our ecosystem are waiting for them.

We cannot deceive them. We must prove that our companies stay behind any promise, any commitment, and any needed task.

And mainly we must supply the products and the services we defined for them in the past, and we must do it the best we can.

We must try to find the golden pathway toward the future, while still actively being the present time and the very near future related to it.


John - I would argue that strategy should always have been trajectory but in the 20th C some had the 'luxury' of not thinking that way...and most of those either don't exist, were bought out, or are struggling today. The "core competency" movement has driven me nuts and I try to get my clients to consider if their core competencies are really core liabilities going forward - just as if their 'core assets' are now core detriments (e.g., if it's a sunk cost, it's sunk! move on!). I hope more people read this and understand the imperative of making one's future, of designing your future for your customers, employees, industry and communities.... he who experiments-learns-applies-iterates fastest has the greatest impact!


Hustling as a strategy doesn't have to spread the organisation too thinly John. If knowledge workers are allowed to create and run clearly defined experiments (probes - with pre-defined indicators of success or failure) leaders can focus on managing portfolios of probes, which will reflect both (internal) core capabilities and (external) opportunities recognised.

Leaders retain the right to reserve release of incremental resources to turn probes into prototypes - depending on their (now evidence-based) judgement of the veracity and desirability of the evidence generated. And taken en masse, the portfolio itself will be an evolving, evidence-based map of the current truth of the organisation's position.

Isn't such present certainty in an uncertain world the most viable strategy an organisation can adopt?

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