If you want to sum up Alan Weiss’s new book, a good pop culture analogy is the concept of Pre-Crime, applied administratively, from the 2002 Steven Spielberg-helmed film Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise. “…I (decided to) (develop) Sentient Strategy, which is a contrarian approach that is nonetheless congruent with Ben Tregoe’s ‘framework’ described above.
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Taking into account the ongoing changes in technology, globalism economics, social justice demands, demographics, and new demands for speed, I’ve tried to codify a self-awareness — sentience — in strategy formulation and implementation,” he writes in his book. Similar to the futuristic titling of Minority Report, it’s called Sentient Strategy: How to Create Market-Dominating Strategies in Turbulent Economies. “Future strategy is about clarity, not complexity. It’s not about charts and graphs, it’s about beliefs and contributions to customers, the community, employees, and investors.
As I created my own practice in the 80s and beyond, it was commonplace for executives to spend weeks in retreats to create a strategy over months that looked a decade into the future. It is meant to be an organic framework that leads and influences every business discussion and assigns accountability to executing the strategy and modifying it to people with the ability and authority to do so. In other words, it’s not about a binder on a shelf or a file on a computer. It’s about realizing your mission as an organization or your calling as a professional. My own calling has long been to maximize the ability of my clients to contribute to society. If you’ve read this far, then turn the page and continue the journey with me.”
“It’s important to guide the organization and its key people from the intellectual nicety of conceptual strategic formulation to the visceral reality of implementation ‘in the trenches’,” he also states. “…The same for strategy. I’ll refer back to Merck. You need to be emotionally engaged in bringing the greatest efforts of scientific research to bear against the world’s greatest health needs. That’s more than an intellectual undertaking, that’s a ‘calling.’ Taking a hard and candid look at your present ability to support your most important strategic needs for the future is a pivotal point…
The one exception I recommend is a highly trusted administrative person who keeps notes and minutes, preserves easel sheets and transcribes them, and reminds everyone of upcoming accountability reports and follow-up sessions. This person is almost as important as the facilitator in keeping things on track and moving forward. Finally, with a relatively small number of people it’s easier to schedule to mutually convenient meetings, demand attendance, and follow up on commitments easily.”
By making things so bell-clear and concise, Weiss succeeds in what I presume he has set out to do. Simply put, Keep it simple. “Planning kills strategy. ‘Strategic planning’ is an oxymoron. Here’s why: Strategy is ‘top-down’ and planning is ‘bottom-up.’ Strategy paints a picture of the future (mission and vision) and focuses on pursuing that moving target. Planning is started at the bottom of the organization.” It’s similar, to use another pop culture reference, to how actor and activist Matt Damon describes his vision of ideal leadership. “There’s a misconception that leaders lead. They don’t. They follow. Every great movement has come from the bottom up.”