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What´s up with water: Pouring water in your corporate strategy (XXIII). Strategic Agility is not NAIQIs.

Have a beautiful day. It is the last Friday of July 2022. Before starting our medulla content, let´s see where we stand by now. As far as our goal for this summer, until today we have covered 75% of our saga. We expect to finish it by August 26th. Next week is a national holiday in San Salvador, but we will publish next Tuesday, as usual. We will only take next Friday off, and afterward, we will continue posting normally again. Take a look at the next calendar, included in our slides, for your clarification.

Setting NAIQIs right. For those who have followed me since 2016, you probably are already familiarized with the acronym NAIQI. The meaning of it is “Nanotechnology, Artificial Intelligence (including automation and robotics), Quantum Supremacy, and the Internet”. These 5 groups of disruptive technologies in combo, all together, can be seen everywhere you go and observed on your Smartphones; in many software that you can download from the Internet; on social media platforms; in companies such as Amazon and Google products/services, and in several new gadgets, machines, devices and equipment that is used not only for manufacturing, but for management tools and techniques such as total quality management, benchmarking, big data analysis, outsourcing, and change management.

Setting our minds for strategy formulation. Eleonora Escalante Strategy has already offered a saga named “Losing our brains with disruptive technologies” in January 2020; then we wrote more than 50 episodes for the occasion. If you wish to understand the causes and consequences of the NAIQIs in our brains, and how perversely these have ruined the brains of a whole generation after the year 2000; be aware that explicitly we still have hope. At least we have realized that we were not going in the right way. Strategy formulation is not the pursuit of strategic agility. Once we understand this, then we also can recover the beauty of going slow. If we pursue businesses for the sake of making money, we might be rich, but we will continue a vicious cycle of confusion. Humans can only thrive with excellence when they do things slowly and with delicacy, and with tons of practice. When we rush, we don´t perform well. The mental abilities and capabilities in terms of problem-solving and analysis in the most traditional way, only blossom when we take our time, and when we see all the contexts in place. Mentally, we need to rewire our brains to read books in white pages and black tint, to ignite our imagination and innovation again. Not for the sake of the joy of reading, but for the greater good of learning and re-learning, discovering again, and not with high speed, please. The brain has its own pace, and each of us has our own pace to learn. Reading one book of 200 pages per week helps, but more importantly is to find out what are we going to do by nurturing our brains with reading experiences. Preparing our brain for thinking is also a matter of patience, individually and in community, sharing, discussing, debating, understanding others, putting ourselves in the shoes of the ones who suffer, enjoying nature, practicing artistic aptitudes, observing with detail, trying, making mistakes, studying from the errors and building new paradigms again. The worst thing we can do is to formulate tactics, fibbing to ourselves as if these are strategies.   A strategic mind can be reached with persistence, effort, a lot of work, persistence no matter what, knowing that our brains reach certain maturity with age, and not before. So take it easy. Enjoy the slow agility, please.

Tactics vs strategic. This comparison is explained in slide number 4 above. The domain of Eleonora Escalante Strategy is corporate strategy. Still, we have already explained that the implementation of our corporate strategy requires to be divided into several levels or layers of strategies in organizations: Businesses have numerous strategies within functional areas, divisions, operations, etc. From the point of view of the corporate strategy domain, we always respond to the question of what are we going to do with our business, and this answer is what we determine as our corporate strategy. On the other hand, for us, whatever is done to answer the question of “how are we going to make it happen”, are tactics.  Of course what appears to be a tactic for us, maybe a “strategy”  to a division head, from the perspective of him or her.

A tactic is always an independent action or activity, meanwhile, a strategy defines a continuing basis for ordering these tactics toward a more broadly conceived purpose.

If NAIQIs are tactical, why are we using them as the neural backbone strategy? The utilization of new disruptive technologies has been coined as a source of competitive advantage and has proven to be the main cause of operational effectiveness. Nevertheless, even with an agile supply chain that utilizes NAIQIs as a differentiation factor, doesn´t mean that we are doing things correctly. NAIQIs which allow improvements in cost reductions at the core operations of the value chain don´t mean to become the neural backbone strategy for your success. It only means that utilizing NAIQIs permits our business to become faster and more reactive in the short term, but not in the long term. The utilization of the NAIQIs is a tactic, but it is not the corporate strategy unless your business sells tech.

Don´t confuse strategic agility with the application of NAIQIs to gain operational efficiency. The term strategic agility defined by Doz-Kosonen at INSEAD is not in any way determined by the application of NAIQIs into our enterprises.  On the contrary, since the term strategic agility came out from the technology companies they advised, we can confirm that the authors have identified leadership human capabilities and not NAIQIs as the core for defining strategic agility and winning operational efficiency. The root of our current cannibalization occurs because of a lack of respect for human beings. Humans have not learned to stop themselves when it comes to using NAIQIs. Hyper competition using a generic low-cost strategy (as a tactic business strategy) that may come as a result of the indiscriminate utilization of NAIQIs is a self-inflicted wound or an economic suicide for the long-term value creation (1).

Agility used as a tactic for operational efficiency exploits NAIQIs as a competitive advantage. Nevertheless,  companies that have privileged it in their quest to gain market share and profits, are suffering from continuous pains. Just ask any corporation that has relied on agility only. They are unable to keep those operational improvements measured in sustainable profitability over time. And they are so trapped in their own dilemma, that the only path they have to continue making profits, is by destroying competition, either through mergers and acquisitions or by imposing NAIQIs utilization in industries and economic sectors that can´t rely on technologies, because of the damage to our brains, and our societies.

Water is all around us. In everything we do. Illustrative and non-commercial image. Photo Source: Microsoft Office Library

Theoretically, our planet is living on tactics, and not strategically. The erroneous notion of strategic agility in our corporate strategy domains is causing us a massive mess. Why? Because the concept of “strategic agility” from the perspective of corporate strategy, is still in the “incipient stage after birth”. Additionally, we can´t use tactics as a corporate strategy, because it is like living with “hows” and not caring about the “what”. As corporate strategists, our inquiry every day is to help our readers to slow down, so we don´t advise strategic agility yet. We are trying to conceptualize the importance of taking it easy with time, through different management notions, in which decision-makers can determine that even with all the NAIQIs in place, it is not beneficial to roll them out totally, or at least to put them on hold until these are proven to be correct. Any NAIQI shouldn´t be sold to end-consumers, without testing several times in different scenarios, and under at least 15 years of research, if not more. We need to try to learn to hold back ourselves from every single invention that comes bundled with technology, or at least to practice self-control or restrain from using it.

We know that we are not advising in the same way in which our rest of colleagues from Bain, BCG, Deloitte, or PWC are doing it. But our integral strategy premise is also different. Instead of going faster and turbulently by extinguishing our competitors, we want you to think thoroughly about what are you going to do with your products/services, in an integral manner.  As I wrote yesterday to someone: we have to go back in time to the decade in which we used mobile phones only to communicate through calls and SMS, and nothing else than that. As silly as it may sounds, we need to re-learn how to stop putting everything inside our cell phones. If a Smartphone continues to become the center of our life, we are going to collapse in the next 15 to 20 years. We assure you.

Our civilization is not ready to embrace NAIQIs. People must be educated first. And that takes time, almost 2 or 3 generations. Without education is madness to leave instant messaging platforms publicly and in the ignorance of the non-educated majority. If we don´t take seriously the call of leaving ignorance behind before proceeding further, in no time our economic systems will fail with the NAIQIs, as much as what we saw with the recent scandal in Sri Lanka. When non-educated people are hungry and angry, they don’t mind lynching machines, computers, presidents, and buildings. A new era of obscurantism and ignorance ends up winning and destroying everything in its path.

Is strategic agility a notion that might be utilized to solve the water cycle issues in corporate strategy? We also reply to this question with another one.  If strategic agility has been confused with the pursuit of operational effectiveness, do you think this notion will help us to solve the water cycle problems?

Our next subject: Understanding and applying strategic agility well

Strategic Music Section:

Why did we choose Joshua Bell? Mr. Bell is another prodigious violinist that deserves to be in this saga. Read his biography here: . I will reminisce about an interesting investigation that Bell performed some years ago. Joshua, dressed in a T-shirt, jeans, and a black baseball cap; went into the entrance of L´Enfant Plaza metro station in Washington DC, under an incognito flag; and performed an over-the-top piece of classical music with his Stradivarius violin. Joshua started to play next to a couple of trash garbage plastic hampers. The objective of the experiment was to measure and observe people’s behaviors, perceptions of beautiful music, and priorities when humans are under an itinerant rush traveling mood, or living under “strategic agility”.  More than 1,000 people passed by. Seven people stopped at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave him money, most of them on the run — for a total of $32, and only one transient recognized him. No one took the time to observe him and identify his music.

We wonder since humans are living in rush-hour moods (particularly with the Smartphone), how many times do we unrecognize talent, and how many times we can´t identify or distinguish quality and genius when it is right in front of us? How many times do we hurt or offend the most intelligent cerebral and bright people (in their respective disciplines) just because they are not wearing trendy or smart clothing or do not use the most recent NAIQIs to express themselves? Have you thought for a minute that my work on this website is under incognito in El Salvador, as when Bell played next to the junk baskets? How many times do we overlook what is really valuable, based on perceptions of indigent deprivation? How many times do we ignore excellence, just because we don´t know what is the meaning of fineness, we don´t grasp the condition of merit? We have gotten used to the horrendous mediocrity in all we do as a result of “the wrong application of strategic agility”, as a result of going faster with our ignorance, not just in music, but in everything, particularly with the usage of disruptive new technologies.

Songs of today are interpreted by Lisa Batiashvili. We have selected two oeuvres. The first one is a classic set of several songs composed by Charles Chaplin (1931), and Leo Daniderff, for his films. This oeuvre mix is called “City Memories”. The second video is “Adiós Nonino / Vuelvo al sur / Buenos Aires Hora Cero” Arr. for Violin, Guitar and Orchestra by Nikoloz Rachveli, with Miloš Karadaglić at the guitar. Enjoy the music!

See you next Tuesday, with the 24th episode of “What´s up with water: Pouring water in your corporate strategy: Understanding and applying strategic agility well”. Thank you for reading to me.

“Violin Maya”. An aquarelle exercise by Eleonora Escalante 2019. I started to paint this artwork in Starbucks Los Proceres, San Salvador. Size: 48 cm x 68 cm

Sources of Reference utilized to prepare the slides and the material above:


Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY. Nevertheless, most of the pictures, images, or videos shown on this blog are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated. 


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