Realtime Strategies or Stronger Tactical Responses?

Realtime Strategies or Stronger Tactical Responses?

Posted by · on October 08, 2014 · in Uncategorized · with 0 Comments

On October 6, HBR put up a great little blog piece by Jeff Elton and Simon Arkill.

You’ll find it here:

We think it flags a significant idea.  Something companies of many shapes and sizes should ponder. But not the idea they tender.

The crux of their message is that as technology allows information access to speed up, and the time needed for predictive analysis of that information to similarly narrow, we approach a point where “Strategy-making can now happen in real time.”

They explain that market- and company-forces have long been required for strategic thinking.  This is true.

But then they jump to the idea that these are also static or long-duration and that therefore the models that draw on them might not be timely enough.  These we have issue with.  Of course market needs and company dynamics are always moving.  So is the third ingredient needed, competitor activity.  That’s why strategy calls for relevant and recent competitive intelligence gathering.

They explain that many of these market and company dynamics are in a state of flux.  And they correctly state that information and analysis tools are rapidly evolving to the point where they can provide real-time input.

But to suggest that such information is enough to draw a strategy from is too simplistic.  A strategy needs to be pursuing a broader agenda, a long term agenda, and it requires resources, investments, milestones.

At best, the real-time input can build faster management and responsiveness within a strategic framework.

But they infer these predictive tools can offer real-time decision-making and strategic choices when they say these tools can provide “meaningful patterns and highlight gaps in markets. These analyses can identify opportunities for maverick business partnerships, and balance the biases of individual decision makers quickly and effectively.”

Maybe so.  But it takes time to act on those decisions, to explore such maverick partnerships, to flesh out terms, to respond when the first two attempts fail, to re-gather competitive-intel, to secure resources, to make operational decisions, to buy equipment, and more.

No, at best, what they identify is not hastened strategy but stronger tactics.

And this is where we think they have identified something very powerful.

Perhaps we can move what was once only the domain of strategy  into the possibilities of tactical responses.  If we can take real-time information and gain predictive intelligence from it faster, and if it can provide valuable insights and even scenarios…then provided the options and opportunities that we see lie within a pre-approved strategy that is relevant, resourced, mandated and measurable… then modest investments of resources can be made where once they would only have been longer-term strategic choices.

In other words, low-capital but large-impact tactical responses can be made where once they would have been impossible.  And they can be made within a strategy that was derived from market-, competitor- and company dynamics but which is loose enough to allow modest real-time tactical responsiveness.  That responsiveness can be part of the strategy.

Apple’s HealthKit provides a great example.  It yields immediate data.  The authors are right, it’ll change the industry and bring people, devices and health specialists closer and faster than ever.  But the decision-making behind modelling it, testing scenarios, securing resources, investing people, setting it up, building it and deploying it… were most definitely not a real-time strategic decision.

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