So simple and very interesting was a blog in the Harvard Business Review (Edmundson & Verdin 9Nov2017), that I add some bits of it here. I feel the information is very important for new and up&running projects and programs to take into consideration. We’re all creatures of habit. We all prefer to avoid pain of “volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.” We ‘need’ to feel safe. We all ‘know’ we’re God’s gift to…

Well in a real sense we are God’s gift. And so is the world we act in, and all “V.U.C.A” for that matter too.

The only real freedom I have is in choosing how to deal with what I face. I can either transcend the strictures of my personal loves/fears, accepting that — together — we’re in a continuous learning process and so help the other (if only by example) to overcome challenges in a benevolent way, or I can dig my heals in defending ‘certainty’ ie. my needs, wants and desires.

Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believ’d.

— Daniel Defoe, The Political History of the Devil, 1726.

Here are the promised excerpts from the blog. En paix and enjoy.

While conducting research on recent dramatic cases of strategic failure in different industries, involving vastly different business models and strategies, we discovered a common pattern: What started as small gaps in execution spiralled into business failures when initial strategies were not altered based on new information provided by experience. These companies’ strategies were viewed by their top executives as analytically sound; performance gaps were blamed on execution.

… a system set up to fail — by the pernicious combination of a fixed strategy and executives who appeared unwilling to hear bad news. (From the perspective of the senior management at many companies, missing sales targets is a failure in the execution of an analytically sound strategy.)

… value creation in a world marked by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA)

… Strategy as learning is an executive activity characterised by ongoing cycles of testing and adjusting, fuelled by data that can only be obtained through execution.

… executives’ lack of tolerance for pushback [resistance, negative feedback Ed.] from people lower in the organisation … –  postponing the inevitable

… Strategy as learning requires senior executives to engage in an ongoing dialogue with operations across all levels and departments. The people who create and deliver products and services for customers are privy to the most important strategic data the company has available. And the strategic learning process involves actively seeking deviations that challenge assumptions underpinning current strategy. Deviations and surprises for their informative value in adapting the strategy. Executives who adopt a strategy-as-learning framework understand that pushing harder on execution may only aggravate the problem if shortcomings are, in fact, evidence of inadequate market intelligence or flawed assumptions about the business model.

… What is new is that closing the gap between strategy and execution may not be about better execution after all, but rather about better learning — about more dialogue between strategy and operations, a greater flow of information from customers to executives, and more experiments.