by W.Watson and edited by the Vulk team
There are many reasons why self organized groups find it hard to have strategic discussions. When the time comes to think about competitors and allies various stumbling blocks pop up which question the validity of strategy discussion. Here are a collection of the top five things that I have found to be a stumbling block for organic groups during these self organized meetings.
1. Strategy is ambiguous
Strategy is sometimes thought to be whatever decisions the smart/higher up people make . Other people think strategy means 'the big plans' and tactics are 'the little plans'. Webster says strategy is:
"A careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time"
A careful plan seems to be a decent stab at the definition but is it still ambiguous?
One way to view this problem is to ask yourself, what is the difference between strategy and architecture? Martin Fowler says:
"Architectural decisions are those decisions which you make now, that are hard to change later."
Although building a house requires "a careful plan", I think it would be a stretch to say that those people who are building homes are doing the same kind of thing as someone playing chess. Because of this ambiguity, when self organized groups get together they often think being strategic simply means just making smart decisions, which can lead to myopic behavior.
2. Strategy is a bike shed
Remember when the presidential candidates battled over 'strategies' versus 'tactics' concerning the Iraq war? Even though one candidate had actual strategic training, it wasn't exactly risky to challenge him on strategy, because strategy is a bike shed. Everyone feels they are an expert when the topic is a bike shed. This means people can comment on strategy with impunity with very few repercussions. This causes some groups to shy away from strategic discussions because they can become political.
3. Strategy is hard
There is one thing that all the ambiguous definitions of strategy agree on, and that is strategy is hard. I suspect this is because whenever you wrestle with another mind, that other mind can adapt to what you do. Predictions about what humans do are hard. Some would say making predictions on humans is foolhardy or impossible, leading those people to be myopic concerning human behavior.
4. Strategy is evil
"All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near." -- Sun Tzu
- Whoever deceives is evil
- Whoever uses strategy is deceiving
- Therefore whoever uses strategy is evil.
Or so the argument goes.
5. Strategy is unwarranted
Whether strategy is vague or too hard, the cost of it is high. This would seem to make strategy too costly to be useful. Besides, if you work hard, do your best, and make a better mouse trap, the world will beat a path to your door right? The belief that hard work is all you need leads to myopic behavior.
To find answers to the problem of strategy within organic groups, see the Organic Strategy paper.