I’ve been spending a lot of time working on both prototyping and strategy lately. Prototyping has been accepted as an iterative activity for a while now. And, with agile development, the same is true- we have been focusing on how to quickly we can iterate when we develop products in production as well.
But, I was thinking about strategy. With strategy we sometimes think of it more as a waterfall process. Identify what you are building a strategy for, gather relevant facts, have meetings, focus for a period of time (hours, days, sometimes weeks) and voila, come out with the strategy. But, the problem is that in our modern hyper-dynamic business world – strategy should look more like prototyping as well. You have assumptions. They need to be tracked and responded to in a dynamic way.
Then I found this HBR article about the thing I was living. Here’s a key quote:
A strategic possibility — a set of answers to the five key questions of strategy (what is our winning aspiration, where will we play, how will we win, what capabilities must we have, and what management systems are required) — is, in fact, a prototype. At first, it is a conceptual prototype. Strategy can be thought of as moving from the conceptual realm to the concrete realm through the process of iterative prototyping.
Think of strategy itself as built upon assumptions we believe to be true at a particular moment in time. And, include a prototyping process by which the assumptions are tested and retested as the environment changes; and as you discover some of your assumptions were wrong.