A Great Question by Dr Prashant Gupta, Pathologist
“Reflection” in a vacuum can be dangerous. I’d like to frame this question in a bigger context. What does your organization need in order to see and interpret all the macro shifts while ensuring that choices that are made at tactical level are made with the highest level intelligence possible? The bridge between strategy and execution is one that most organizations desire more than anything to build. I don’t have a silver bullet for you or your business. I have a belief system that I hope can pivot you, your actions, your thinking, and ultimately your strategy.
The belief system that I have is that your personal competitive advantage is the way you see the macro and how you choose to articulate your life experience.
All of our choices are made at the micro-level by our sensory perception and our interpretation of that information. If you want to have a more accurate read on the macro - getting feedback, challenging your mental models and strengthening of a few core mental muscles is required. The mental muscles I advocate that you strengthen both personally and organizationally are resilience, responsiveness and reflection.
I recommend you read an earlier post (via @ogunte) I wrote explaining how I arrived at this definition of agility.
To reinforce the gap, read one of my favorite posts from friend Cameron Norman (aka @cdnorman)
We all know about the P & L of business performance. As an executive coach a while back, I took a sample group of leaders through an exercise where all meetings & scheduled appointments were put into a framework. On the left hand side you can see that most of the time and energy was put into fire fighting or running the business- very tactically. I don’t think these calendars are better or worse than most. I feel this is a fair sampling of typical business today. My question is, how will one create innovation and new solutions if there is no strategic time allowed in which to consider how to take the customer/vendor feedback which is now synchronous into account? Strategy is not learning time. It is time to reflect, to think, time to organize- what is already there. That for me is what reflection is. Open space for open space. Not many businesses are designing for the theory of constraints so businesses are often making promises they have no internal capacity to fulfill. (I just want to interject how much I miss Eliyahu Goldratt)
I hope people who read the most recent WSJ article The Trouble with Tinkering Time
are not misled. You cannot plug and play one company’s solution to your own strategy. You have to consider what is true and relevant in your own context. Cross-training and cross-projecting have a purpose and it needs to support the process of gaining multiple perspectives. However, without time to consider the patterns and build scenarios, the potential learning may not occur. Exposure does not ensure integration. As you can see from the graph on the right side, I believe that in order to have innovation to occur, you need to have down time. After all, an idea needs stillness to land. You have to have capacity to put all that great customer/vendor feedback into meaningful solutions.
The founders of Global Business Network including Napier Collyns, Steward Brand, Peter Swartz have done a tremendous amount to support and teach scenario planning and strengthen the foresight skills. They came from Shell ( @shell). As I was preparing this post, I took a deep dive into how Shell is currently training their upcoming leaders and found that they are actually teaching meditation as a strategic imperative
If you think you are adding value by multi-tasking and by being sleep deprived, I’d like you to reconsider. Here are two business cases that would say that designed reflection would allow you to add more value:
Overloaded Circuits: Why Smart People Underperform via @MITSloan
The Way We Are Working Isn’t Working via @TonySchwartz
There are many ways to practice “open space” and “reflection” in your life and in your business. It is urgent in a time where the macro is moving so fast that you need designed time for reflection. You need to hear your own thoughts and find your center to make wise, intelligent decisions.
In pursuit of reflection by design,