Strategic Doing

A strategy answers two questions: Where are we going? and How will we get there?

A lot of people have answers for the first question. Almost no one has answers for the second.

That’s why I have devoted much of the last twenty years rethinking how strategy gets done. We are moving from hierarchies to networks as the dominant organizational form in our economy. Strategic planning is a discipline that works well for hierarchies. It is miserable for networks.

I have designed Strategic Doing, on the other hand, specifically for open, loosely-joined networks. I have taken insights from asset-based development, Appreciative Inquiry, and open source software development to design a simple strategy discipline. I include thinking from positive psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy, and complexity economics. I also combine some of the practical lessons I have learned in over a decade of working with joint ventures in China. (U.S.-China JVs are really complex collaborations.)

Like any discipline, Strategic Doing takes practice to master. It is simple, but not easy to do well. The more you practice, the easier it becomes.

The major constraints we face today are time and attention. We need strategy disciplines that are simple, fast and adaptive. They need to engage people quickly and keep them on track. They need to provide a platform for innovative collaboration to self-organize. Strategies then emerge from these focused, pragmatic conversations. (These strategy networks are different in character from other types of networks, like communities of interest or learning communities.)

With this approach, we can develop collaborations quickly that are capable of doing some complex projects — like launching an economic gardening program, building an entrepreneurial “ecosystem” (a set of networks, really), defining new career pathways, creating new supports for at-risk youth, or designing re-engagement networks to handle major shutdowns. People are using strategic doing in all these contexts.

Introductory Video

Here’s a 10 minute introduction to Strategic Doing:

The Strategic Doing Backstory

To learn more about the backstory of Strategic Doing, here’s a podcast in which I discuss how Strategic Doing developed over the last 20 years.

You might also be interested in this TEDxRockford talk:


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