Strategy and Strategists – do we need both?

Not so long ago I attended a conference focused almost exclusively in the future impacts for law firms.  One of the speakers was a specialist in innovation and future thinking; and the resulting presentation was both fascinating and bordering on the scary!

The session centred on futures and what we need to know to be able to understand the future and how we can best plan to get the most out of it.

Two of his key messages were:

Firstly, as Douglas Adams (yes, of Hitchhikers fame) said “anything invented after you’re 35 is against your order of things”.  Yep, apparently after that age we are less able to embrace or even look to instigate change.  I was hoping for a little bit older of be honest…..

Secondly, as Charles Handy (organisational and social development guru) has said “change can take a long time to come but when it does it can be rapid”.  And there is a whole series of episodes across history that illustrate these lulls and then high pace of change – and research suggests we are in the midst of such a period as they usually closely follow a period of recession.

Carlota Perez describes these periods as 5 technological revolutions that have taken place where there is a first phase of development which is closely followed by a bubble or period of disruption or major upheaval.  Then from this downturn stage there is born a “golden age” of technological development.  And looking at the last of these revolutions suggests we could be on the cusp of our next golden age.

What will this bring, what do we need to do and how will we respond?

This is where a Strategist might help within your business.

Traditionally a Strategist or Chief Strategy Officer had responsibility for creating the strategic plan for a 1 – 3 year period.  Nowadays this isn’t enough – this is now a normal function for the business and the value a Strategist can provide is to stretch much further beyond an annual planning process and into the realm of really understanding the external environment, what developments are much further down the line and the impacts these can create both positively and negatively for the business.

Whilst fighting my fears when we explored the glory of AI and the opportunity it brings to our workplace I stopped to question myself – “surely things like this are just for the big boys in the major technology space?”.   Whilst it probably suited me to think this I was quickly brought back into reality when speaking to the lady next to me who works at a similar sized firm nearby who explained to me they employ a Strategist specifically to keep the Board thinking and planning for the future.

Food for thought? Absolutely.

If nothing else your business depends on being competitive  – and if others are ahead of you in this area and nothing else, they are ahead of you and this can’t be good for your business.

Anyone know a Strategist?

 

 

 

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