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Over the last decade I have been redesigning my life to do work that is meaningful to me. I did it by experiment. I tried many things, and deleted, erased stuff that didn’t fit. With no remorse but with trepidation. It costed me almost everything that society prizes.

Recently, I found what I was meant to do. Not a job. A vocation. A craft. I didn’t know if I was going to be good, or great, let alone the best at it. …


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One of the most mysterious things about new technology is that over time we forget how it was to live without it.

Ask people born in this millennium to imagine living without the Internet. What would they struggle with? Finding facts? Keeping in touch? Or, if you are slightly older, think of what it was like before invention of photography. Can you imagine slowly forgetting how people looked like?

We become the new technology with no memory of the way we did things in the past. This impacts the way we see and make sense of the world. Things that were impossible are starting to be quite real. But we also lose parts of ourselves that we cease to rely on. For example, I don’t remember last time I actually had to memorise a phone number… these days when I make a new acquaintance we ring each other and add the unanswered call to our contacts. …


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Still from

I bet that if we summarised all the things we ask of Siri, Alexa, all the bots and other „learning machines”, what would emerge is an image of humans being in quite a demanding mood.

„Alexa turn on the lights”, „Siri, call my wife”, „Chatbot423, order pizza”…, “Google, will it rain tomorrow?”

How different would the world look like if we treated all the learning algorithms and artificial intelligences within the computers, phones, and other machines as our collective children?

What if we thought of AI as the humanity’s child? Would we continue treating it as a slave, making it do mundane tasks straight after it was born? …


Strategy is sometimes equated with something conceptual and separate to action. The language that describes it is full of cerebral words such as “thinking”, “logic”, “plan”. This is in contrast to seemingly different world of implementation, where we talk “doing”, “effectiveness”, “process”. The gap between the two is especially wide in large and complex companies.

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The classical gap between “Strategy” and “Implementation”.

However, as the markets change faster strategic styles that are more effective are those that promote entrepreneurship, innovation and agility.

How can large and complex organisations become better at linking strategy and execution?

Let’s for a moment consider a different viewpoint on strategy making.

Consider strategy making as a continuous act of prototyping the future.


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I have a superpower. I make complex things simple.

Some people read. Some people write.

I doodle, sketch, draw. Whatever is in my head. Out it comes onto the paper.

Why is this a superpower you ask?

You see, .

We know more than we have the words for.

When we explore what is in our our minds by drawing rather than by writing or talking, we discover more relevant information, uncover greater connections and can synthesise into meaning faster.

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We know more than we can tell. We know more than the words we have.

Sketch before you research!

The way we have been taught to solve problems was to do research before coming up with the solution. But it was mostly external type of research — books, internet, interviews. …


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Sketch for picture XVI The Great Tower of Kiev. Wassily Kandinsky, 1924

Constantly changing environment requires more and more organisations to re-invent themselves. It’s a mistake to assume that it doesn’t affect leaders and teams on a personal level.

“What business are we actually in?” — I heard the CEO of a large manufacturing company ask this question of his team in the middle of a workshop. It was the beginning of a strategy review which would take them into completely new territories. I was a strategy facilitator standing at the side of the room observing the group dynamics and thinking about how to create a good environment for some fresh thinking.

For the CEO it was a very challenging time professionally. The question of “what business are we in?” was also an inquiry into his own identity, which he developed over many years alongside the industry’s evolution. …

About

Wojtek Materka

I help leaders develop and thrive in face of complex problems. Management prof @insead. []

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