Strategy as Heuristics — Take II

About a year and a half ago I shared a short excerpt from Brian Robertson’s Holacracy book which briefly describes Holacracy’s approach to strategy:

Strategy as Heuristics

In a nutshell, the idea was to state strategy as simply heuristics using the structure of “X, even over Y”, where both X and Y are good, valuable things. For example: “disciplined process, even over swift decision making”.

While the example in the book made the idea a bit more tangible, I struggled with generalizing it into a more repeatable process.

Interestingly enough, one of my more recent posts finally started connecting the dots for me:

Polarity Management

If we accept the premise that most business challenges are polarities to be managed, rather than problems to be solved, then strategy formulation becomes the process of identifying: the most critical polarities that the business must manage in the upcoming time period, its current position on each polarity spectrum, and the direction in which it must move on that spectrum to achieve a more optimal balance between the two poles.

On the execution side, another old post provides us with a useful insights in this context:

Benchmarks and Guardrails

If we are not specific in describing the position within each polarity that we’re aiming for, we’re running the risk of the pendulum swinging too far in the direction of the other pole. Therefore, we also need a set of benchmarks and guardrails that will indicate when we are close to our desired end-state, or how we might know if we’ve accidentally crossed it.

It’s kind of cool seeing these three seemingly unrelated posts, at the time of their original writing, getting integrated into a more holistic synthesis.

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