Ryan Answers: What’s the Future of Strategy

Time does fly. After a little period, Ryan finally got a chance to answer my last blog question to him.

I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t really know what I would write as a response had he had a quick answer the the question, so I don’t mind that he took his time. Since the original question, I’ve had a lot of learning and inspiration in this area. I think I end up in the same place as Ryan through different means.

I think our definition of strategy is changing because our organizations and the way they do business are changing. There’s a ton of reasons for this. Our ability to measure the business and react to what we find is causing us to change more rapidly. Supply lines are becoming more and more lean, giving us greater flexibility. To compound it all, the recent recession has pushed most companies toward more rapid, entrepreneurial ways of operating. Pop-up shops used to be sort of daring rouge attempts to make noise about a brand on the cheap, but now big retail uses it regularly in urban areas to clear excess inventory.

Businesses today are starting to look more like living, growing organisms than the traditional hierarchical org chart. They’re increasingly working off a portfolio of options instead of just pursuing one main avenue of growth. As as more companies has become successful, they have inspired their competitors to be more daring. To think about how different companies do business just in the last ten years is pretty flooring.

All this has blurred the line between strategy and tactics. What once seemed like two categories has become this varied spectrum. Strategy used to inform the tactics, but now it’s just as important that your tactics inform your strategy.

Since I posted the original question to Ryan, I ran across a pretty brilliant talk from a guy named Matthew Milan at Ignite Toronto. His five minute talk has seriously rocked my world. Milan had put a lot things into words I had been wondering about and sort of kicking around in my head. I won’t just recite the talk, (though I would if I thought I could get away with it.) The main point he makes quite eloquently is, “strategy doesn’t plan, it learns.” It’s about trying things, understanding them and evolving what you do. It’s business in beta and launching and learning. It’s a very active act of design.

Thanks to Ryan for rising to the question.

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