I wanted to enjoy Michael Raynor’s THE STRATEGY PARADOX … but didn’t. Raynor is at the forefront of strategic business thought as a Distinguished Fellow with Deloitte Research and having co-written the classic book, THE INNOVATOR’S SOLUTION. He has lots of smart stuff to share. Unfortunately, Michael Raynor’s book is chock-full of too much business speak gobbly-gook for this marketer to comprehend.
After reading page 16, I gave up. I couldn’t understand the basic principles behind the book because Raynor’s reliance on using business speak gobbly-gook hindered my understanding.
I’ve read the following paragraph multiple times and still struggle to understand what Raynor is trying to communicate. This paragraph is supposed to serve as the summary for the book. However, it serves better as a prime example for how Raynor hinders understanding. Read for yourself and try to make sense of Raynor’s business speak gobbly-gook.
“The strategy paradox arises from the need to commit in the face of unavoidable uncertainty. The solution to the paradox is to separate the management of commitments from the management of uncertainty. Since uncertainty increases with the time horizon under consideration, the basis for allocation of decision making is the time horizon for which different levels of the hierarchy are responsible: the corporate office, responsible for the longest time horizon, must focus on managing uncertainty, while operating managers must focus on delivering on commitments. This is the principle of Requisite Uncertainty. A critically important tool in applying Requisite Uncertainty is Strategic Flexibility, a framework for identifying uncertainties and developing the options needed to mitigate risk or exploit opportunity.”[pg. 16, THE STRATEGY PARADOX]
Huh? What was that all about?
Well … as a public service project, I’ve spent time translating Raynor’s business speak hieroglyphics into everyday words. Some particulars might have been lost in translation so feel free to improve upon my translation in the comments section.
Businesses must make decisions today despite not knowing what the future will bring tomorrow. The business solution to this today/tomorrow paradox involves separating out the need to better understand year-over-year future uncertainties from the need to handle the day-to-day business activities.
Businesses can better anticipate and act upon uncertainty by having “strategic-thinking” employees focused on the future and by having “tactical-doing” employees dedicated to managing the business on a day-to-day basis.
The process of overcoming the today/tomorrow paradox involves having “strategic-thinking” employees creating multiple scenarios of what the future may bring. From there, detailed menus of next-step options should be developed and when one of the future scenarios becomes reality, “tactical-doing” employees should act upon the appropriate next-step menu option.