"Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."
The era of predictable implementation of strategic plans is gone. Organizational strategy, when conceptualized as a plan for reaching a set of goals, is often no sooner inked than some aspect of it is out of date. Blame seismic disturbances in social systems, global and environmental realities, and more, for this volatility. Even the day-to-day life of organizations—staff turnover, high workloads, low engagement—can create render strategies more perfunctory than applied.
So what's an organization to do? While strategic planning is still a vital exercise, the answer lies in shifting the focus from planning activities to imagining and planning for the fundamentals that will remain (relatively) unchanged. Strategies should be magnetically powered by future scenarios that seem both attainable and profoundly different from the present. They should focus on building the creative capacities of stakeholders to innovate and experiment in service of desired outcomes. And they should serve as an opportunity to use purpose and principles to anchor what could be an unpredictable roster of activities.
“Wanderer, your footsteps are the road, and nothing more; wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking."
— Antonio Machado
Un-strategizing is a deliberate act of unflinching learning and deep listening with no immediate intent to create a strategy. While several organizational management approaches speak to this need for deep and active learning and unlearning, what is often lacking is a permission structure or mandate for organizations to fully lean into this process. Read How and When to Un-Strategize to learn more.