“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills,” goes a Chinese proverb. The new decade promises to bring us disruptive change. Digitalization will significantly alter how we do business. In 2020, we will also start a new long cycle, The Sixth Wave of lead-technological development. Moreover, In the coming years, Gen Z will enter the workplace while the last Boomers will retire by the end of the new decade.
What does all of this mean for you if you’re a CEO, a business unit leader, or an entrepreneur? Gather your troops and take some time to explore the evolving strategic environment and the big picture of your business in the coming months. Today and in a follow-up episode published in four weeks, let me share how we may guide you and your management team through a Strategic Xploration Exercise with the help of the strategy toolkit in our X-IDEA toolbox.
A Strategy Xploration project begins with you and your senior managers sharing your views on key strategic challenges that you foresee will affect your business. We help you frame these challenges appropriately as how-to sentences. We may unify these in one Initial Challenge statement (expressing either a perceived problem to tackle, an opportunity to seize, or an important goal to pursue). For example, “How to strategically align our business to the digitalization of key value-adding activities in our industry?”
Next, we propose exploring these perceived challenges in a Strategy Xploration Workshop. Ideally, your company fields two teams for the exercise so that these can challenge each other’s views (to counter Groupthink). The workshop kicks-off by you introducing the project objectives and initial challenge to the teams. After that, we prefer hosting a “Speaker’s Forum.” Thereby, 3-4 speakers brief the delegates on the case by sharing pertinent facts, trends, and needed process know-how in an edutaining way. Typically, the speakers are topic experts from inside the company (such as a market researcher or business development manager) and outside experts (such as a futurist or an innovation process expert from Thinkergy).
Following that, we ask the teams to start keeping track of things they don’t know about their case (but would want to know) in an Un-Knowledge List. They also begin collecting insights (or sudden “ahas” about what’s really going on in their business) in an Insights List, and also jot down initial ideas during the subsequent Xploration-step.
After setting the scene, it’s time for real work. We invite the teams to CALM-ly Xplore their case by “traveling down four Xploration paths” and exposing them to carefully picked thinking tools on their way.
“Men that love wisdom must be inquirers into very many things indeed;” noted the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. The first Xploration path provides an opportunity to investigate facts, beliefs, assumptions, rules critically, as well as check on possible sacred cows related to your business. What are some of the tools that you and your teams may come into contact with here?
“My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions,” said management guru Peter Drucker. One of the most fruitful Xploration paths is asking smart, provocative, and even “stupid” questions.
To help you look differently at your business, we use a range of Xploration tools that allow the teams to assume fresh perspectives and take note of different viewpoints related to their business. What tools might we bring into play here to shift your perspective?
The fourth and final Xploration Path appeals more to visual thinkers who like to map out information visually. What are some of the tools you might encounter here?
By the end of a Strategy Xploration Workshop, you and your teammates will have gained a lot of new insights into your business and the evolving market environment. Moreover, you will have compiled a long list of things you don’t know yet about your business and the emerging market space but would want to know.
What happens next? Come back in four weeks for part 2 of this two-article episode, when I’ll walk you through the subsequent immersion and extraction phases of a Strategy Xploration project.