>Alt. Strat.

A Manifesto Of Sorts

John Caswell
Apr 22, 2017 · 8 min read

2017 put a cherry on top of a very toxic cake for me. Countless displays of global ignorance burst our stupor. 2017 made many of us scream with rage and stirred up deep emotions.

Some long held beliefs were challenged. Concerns about how fucked we are and that had been dormant for too long were surfaced. Genuine frustration came rushing out and affected every conversation. We reacquainted ourselves with long held passion for what’s right.

Putting the blame fairly and squarely back on each one of us.

* We doesn’t exist by the way — unless we do. Maybe we can..? Yes, let’s not be naive — it’s a big bad world out there. Who is thinking and what are they thinking? As a result of that — what is the ‘strategy’ to save ourselves and who is running with that? If not us then who? Us has to become the we…!


2017 was therefore a good year— it woke more of us up. It sparked renewed energy for change. It spurred us back into life again. 2017 was definitely a year of conversation.

Can 2018 be a year of execution?

10 Themes That Run Through Our Veins

And from here on we* refers to those that are doing something about it. Those that are doing their little bit to bring about a difference to these things…

A Charter Of Sorts:

Business leaders get too much of their thinking from consultants and other third parties. There’s all manner of bias and judgement in this.

2. We Need A New Model Of Integrity — We believe the traditional thinking/consulting models/methods seeks not to solve the problem, or transfer capability to those in control — they simply feed the beast. Encouraging third parties to to find more problems to solve.

Too many methodologies are designed to stay mysterious and distant and in their own favour. We do not believe in outsourcing critical thinking.

3. We Need Fresh Thinking — We believe in progress and a better/more human vision for society and business. We also believe that the purpose of strategy (to get there) is to ‘be prepared’ — far better equipped to embrace what’s happening and what to do next.

Strategy must enable the entire business to have an inspired/engaged role in what matters and what their contribution is.

A LIFE AND DEATH MANIFESTO FOR ALL THINKERS/STRATEGISTS TO STAND UP

4. We See A Different Future For Work — We believe that the exponential rise in technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a significant role in the future of work and therefore the shaping of strategy.

The fresh approach to strategy must have people, critical thinking — humanity, ethics and morality at its heart.

5. We Need A New Mentality — We believe that any successful new future (and the strategic thinking alongside) will be digital — and the domain of mindful leaders. They will be emboldened by crucial capabilities — creativity, humanity, curiosity, iron will and critical thinking. Such skills will need to be taught to — and supported by — everyone in the enterprise in order to enable this preparedness.

Strategy will not remain the task of an elite few at the top of the business or remote third parties but be the responsibility of everyone.

7. We See A ‘Systems Informed’ Future — We believe that being a systems thinker is essential for future leaders and new strategists. No individual process in a business — be it marketing, manufacturing, finance or whatever can exist in isolation of the whole. As digitalisation overtakes the more traditional ‘human-powered’ tasks the system of business becomes one system — one thing.

It may be a massive, complex and global thing but it’s one thing. People will benefit from this but they will need to adapt.

8. We Need The Big Picture — With alternative facts, filter bubbles and echo chambers we now know the importance of the truth. We need to embrace multiple perspectives, explore ALL dynamics, not what serves our own argument — we must pursue holistic and balanced thinking.

Advisors must have no ‘dog in the fight’ or outcome in mind — only the right answers to the right questions.

10. We Need To Learn The Art Of Conversation — We know the power of listening and the importance of genuine human conversation and discussion. Having no agenda or a solution looking for the problem.

We must stand back far enough from the challenge to avoid solving the wrong problems really well.

The Charter Powers The New Breed

We Will Push Back

Alternative facts, fake news — spread by the selfish and self serving. A response >Alt.Strat.different thinkers — prepared to stand up and be truthful. We believe hundreds, if not thousands, of people exist around the world that have probably had enough of the complacency and ignorance.

Recognise The >Alt Strategists

You will see us sitting in coffee bars — seething at the stupidity of how business/governments choose to operate. But we are constantly finding like minds who feel the same — but unrepresented. We are doing something. It’s in our blood.

We are damned if we will be defined by an outdated definition of strategy. The one that a significant majority of the industry still propagates. We aren’t prepared to let that shitty definition undermine the value of the idea.

We are the outliers, the restless and the makers of mischief. We are agitating for both radical and practical change to how business thinks.

We believe the word strategy is worryingly adrift. It’s marooned in a sea of meaningless methods and practices.

The Enemy

The enemy has four heads. Ignorance, Incompetence, Complacency and Fear.

  • We call out the ‘Legacy Leader’ — we’ve defined them as those leaders who think that change and disruption isn’t their responsibility or isn’t going to affect them.
  • They are the ones who are hanging on to past methods — the tools and techniques that they are comfortable with.
  • It’s that comfort that’s killing their enterprise/business and making their employees suicidal with tedium and stupidity.

1. Ignorance

A Generational Issue

The ignorance is a direct result of the wrong education system. Ignorance is a visible and defining quality of the Legacy Leader. They will call it prudence or experience. We call it by its real name. Ignorance.

We are hostages to a system that focused on learning an irrelevant curricula. We sucked up decades of this useless stuff. We installed generations of ill prepared people into our businesses. These businesses stink of inappropriate teaching. This teaching skulks deep within enterprise cultures — causing a dispiriting disease that infects unsuspecting people.

We will not continue to feed the ignorant beast of inequity and inequality. We will do nothing to promote purely money making systems that supports a few ghostly investors and Caribbean island based shareholders.

2. Incompetence

As A Result Of Ignorance

Partly because of the ignorance, but also because of the way organisations have operated in the past, Legacy Leaders are in positions they are not equipped for. The demands of today are totally out of synch with the leaders of today.

Totally different skills and competencies are needed and the truth is not many of the people in critical positions have them.

3. Complacency

Legacy Leaders Nod Vigorously

They say they want innovation and creativity in their enterprise — then do little or nothing to remove the barriers and limitations in the way. They admit quietly that they are unwilling to take the risk of the change they’ve asked for. They will not alter the rules that would allow more freedom and transformation at the rate and pace it needs to happen.

Certainly not on their watch.

4. Fear

Legacy Leaders Fear Change

They fear risk and they fear the unknown. They fear new. They fear the idea that their status, their empire and their legacy will mean nothing. They are right to be fearful but they should be fearful of their fear. Their fear of inaction is what will see their downfall.

Fear strikes at everyone — even the new breed of strategists. New strategists fear inaction, stasis, lack of engagement and ownership of strategy by those that implement it every day. That means everyone in the enterprise.

It’s Time

We are already working differently — making a difference. We are delivering a different approach. We ask questions, we do what’s needed, we get stuff done. We partner, we collaborate, we learn through the work. We believe strategy IS execution.

We are redefining the purpose and the techniques of strategy — the kind of stuff that’s designed for this — the 21st Century.

Just Thinking

Observations Good, Bad & Disruptive

John Caswell

Written by

May The Bridges I Burn Light My Way. I’m The Head Of Crayons At Group Partners.

Just Thinking

Observations Good, Bad & Disruptive

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