The crystal ball or the sticks and stones of outrageous fortune?

Businesses whose strategies require many low risk moves will thrive on a belief that the future is inherently unpredictable.

Do you believe that your future business environment is inherently unpredictable? Or that you can anticipate nearly everything if only you think through and prepare well enough for it?

Few businesses could survive with a culture at the extreme ends of the spectrum – total reactivity to events or total commitment regardless of what happens. Where your culture lies on the spectrum will drive your approach to strategy.

If you tend to believe that the world is inherently unpredictable, you will build flexibility into your strategy. You will not be vested in your current assumptions. When new events and information come up, you will ask “What does this mean? What should I change?” Failure is more likely to be seen as learning pointing to new action to take.

If you put more faith in your ability to anticipate, you will be more committed to your chosen direction. When new events and information come up, you will ask “how can I get back to plan? Given I am committed to this path, do I need to fine-tune the roadmap?” Failure will mean that someone didn’t anticipate well enough.

There are some industries (e.g. basic infrastructure) where the stakes behind a single investment are so high that a strategic culture based on detailed planning then total commitment makes sense. The more that your strategy is based on many low-risk moves, the more a belief in an unpredictable world will pay off.


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