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What´s up with water: Pouring water in your corporate strategy (XXVII). Is strategic agility the right way to fix our environment?

Wishing you a lovely week of august. Let´s begin our today´s segment by celebrating the standout of one-of-a-kind existing consulting people who are trying to fix this planet for the better, regardless of political ideologies or economic motivations, and who are always contributing and helping others to be strategically correct. Let´s begin, because this is a long publication too.

The meaning of fixing something. The word “fix” is a magnificent word that makes me so happy as a strategist. Guess why? The strategic advisors (as an industry) survive because things are going wrong and need repair. If the companies and industries didn´t have problems, we wouldn´t have a job. In consequence, when there is a mess, or when affairs go wrong or are not working out as we wish; then consultants have a predicament to arrange. That is the time in which our brainpower is seen in entire splendor to execute solutions.  Strategic Consultants (at any level: analysts, associates, team leaders, managers, directors, and owners), should be the first group of people on earth that require to learn and develop strategic agility on a constant basis. Strategic agility is understood as being agile with integrity. There is no worst deception than to find a group of consultants (with limited brain capacities) that leave you with a wrong remedy or a most threatening hole than before you hire them.

Repairing the brain to think properly. In addition, more and more, we are in need to help younger consultants get out of the routine to rely on the “same” excessive data hustle, which is a passage for deception. When data is biased or wrong, don´t assume your solution will be accurate. If I were the executive director of Bain or BCG or McKinsey, I would be much more preoccupied to provide the conditions for helping my employees to think well, than worrying about how to reach the revenue goal for the end of the year. The priority at a consulting house is to pamper and train their people to become experts in problem-solving and critical thinking. Enclosing strategic agility helps, but it is not the only source of skillfulness and dexterity for our brains. (Strategic agility is defined under Eleonora Escalante Strategy terms and considering the elements of Doz-Kosonen’s three meta-capabilities). To think properly is an art and takes years and decades of preparation (35 years or more).  When a consulting CEO appreciates this way of consideration for his or her people, be sure that money will come inevitably to his or her company, because of the exquisite and right integral way of thought of the talented consultants engaged under his or her umbrella of responsibility.

Please take in mind that we are sticking to our definition for strategic agility:  Strategic Agility is grounded in slowness and reflection. It requires daily actions and mental workouts (described in my last publication from Friday), that help us be “on point” in our personal mindset. The word strategic agility for us is positioned in the context of an integral meaning. Please do not mistake it with fast but with an acuity, skillfulness dexterity, or 360 degrees of cleverness in how to decide appropriately. Strategic agility has nothing to do with acting quickly to find the wrong causes of problems using mistaken big-data and biased AI software, but the most urgent longing desire to fix and decide correctly.

Identifying the causes is crucial. Strategic agility can be utilized for the practice of problem-solving, only if we are able to identify the authentic causes of the problems. In business, most consultants try to offer solutions from the point of view of financial returns. Business Owners usually worry about the net profits, and they are exigent about it. But generally, the demanding overview of thinking correctly is out of the economical rationale, and many times the causes of financial erosion, are coming from a vicious circle of wrong business models, the lack of transformation of their respective industries´ practices, and from all the issues of the industry competitive ecosystem and interrelationships. My observation about industry problems goes from the particular to the general, and from the macro level to the micro aspects. And sometimes the key resolution is not in the company player of the industry, but in the wrong approach to the complex global system of the whole industry supply chain, or in the organic structure of how the industry is functioning. It is hard for a company to fix anything if the industry ecosystem in which operates is crooked.

Being said, the detection and recognition of the causes require multidisciplinary teamwork, and it requires skillfulness dexterity and a slow reflection. Otherwise, we have no possibility to orderly apply the right solutions to the problems. At the corporate level, BoD and directors won´t be able to decide properly about what to do with their businesses, if they don´t know what the causes of the confusion are; and sadly, they end up adding more disturbing decisions that don´t cure the illness but are creating more chaos for their respective industries and societies, in the long-term view.

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

Strategic agility helps but doesn´t fix it all. Since strategic agility is the skillfulness of dexterity to think properly, remove from your mind the notion of “operational agility” that is being employed in manufacturing and technology deployment to be “economically efficient”. The term “strategic agility” in the current context of the “Tower of Babylon state at the academic level” is messy. So it will require timing to disembark to a notion with which all of us are happy with it. So, it will take a while. Doz and Kosonen are also compelled to refine their 3 meta capabilities and set them higher at the corporate level. My own definition of strategic agility must go through a Design-Based Research process too. Additionally, there are other leadership competencies and proficiencies, much necessitated at the BoD team that have not been included, which are probably much more important for slowing us down, than triggering rapid disasters when analyzing problems and applying solutions that will ruin the society as a whole.

Go back to the source of our brain power.  Have you learned a popular phrase that expresses “Use it or you lose it!”. Well, if we don´t give grind to our brains, if we don´t make them think, and then slow down and take some rest, if we don´t help them to gain perspective in nature, we are losing our brains in the hands of the mobile and NAIQIs (Nanotechnologies, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Supremacy, and the Internet).

Our brains have been designed for conformism. I always sense that our brain is magically conformist. It feels satisfied by not stretching its limits. Once it settles for a fake comfort (our mindset knows when everything is set), then our brains stop working, because they know that predictable established stuff is out there, or somewhat will fix the problems. That is why only 10% of all the global students in the world are at the excellence-outstanding level, meanwhile, the rest of the people are satisfied passing with mediocrity, or are struggling to get good results. Simply because no one has taught them that each brain is different, and they don´t know how to pamper or train their own to be successful. What is worst, is that at this moment, these undervalued brains are using the NAIQIs instead.  

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

An example of using strategic agility to fix our environmental issues with the paper industry.

Our statement of analysis is:

“The destruction of the forests is caused by the utilization of excessive paper manufactured from trees. So, the solution is to remove the utilization of paper from our schools and substitute it with electronic devices such as tablets or mobiles”. Let´s explore if this is correct or not.

Someone with strategic agility will read this statement with careful attention. First, he or she will ask questions beyond the usual pulp-paper market trends that are coming from consulting industry reports. Read our presentation above.  Let´s see the following questions from someone who is strategically agile:

Why are the forests disappearing? Where is this forest data coming from? Who has calculated and reviewed the data about forests and woodland territories which are being destroyed by the pulp and paper industry? What is the reference time origin of these calculations? Are other existing sources of tree destruction as fires or incendiary causes, droughts, livestock, agriculture, construction, or urbanization? Can I gather different sources of authors (authors who have written academic papers who hold an honorable reputation of inspecting everything to the most detailed level), authors who can prove with evidence what are the main causes of tree destruction? Is paper manufacturing the main source of forest destruction? Are the main pulp and paper companies restoring their consumption of trees efficiently? What type of trees are used to produce paper? Can we analyze what are the main paper production companies in the world doing to restore the trees? How are their reforestation programs and repairing initiatives working until now? What other sources of input are used to fabricate paper? Is the paper industry recycling the inputs that come from post-consumer waste? Are they investing in research to produce paper from agricultural bagasse and fruits/legumes squandering garbage?

Let´s continue asking ourselves questions in a cascade mode:

Can we find out what are the end-user segments of paper production? What is the % utilization of paper per segment: paper for commercial packaging and wrapping, hygiene/sanitary products, paper for education and communication (newspapers), paper for books, others, etc.?  What is the impact of using paper in school/learning supplies (books, photocopies, notebooks) from the point of view of the total amount of wood that is cut per year? How much is utilized for packaging cardboard or boxes in the new model of online sales? If we continue with the delivery online model, what is the forecasting of paper growth in 10 or 50 years from now? How many industries are planning to leave plastic out of their packaging and switch to paper?

If after careful consideration, and numerous reviews, we arrive to discover that only 25% of 1 out of 10 trees is utilized for education, printing, writing, and newspapers… isn´t it stupid to change education to a digital one, based on the statement above? If more than 50% of the paper goes to wrapping and packaging using the online digital model and it will grow to 70% in less than 5 years because we switched from brick-mortar to online sales, so what are we doing? And even if we sum all the utilization of paper, what if only 10% of all the wood that is cut goes to the pulp and paper industry, meanwhile the rest is burned and employed in building or construction? Can you check all our slides from above, please?

The last question comes from the point of view of geography. If more than 50% of paper market demand stays in Asia (mainly in China and India), then what is really happening?

In summary, for our example: If we know that writing and reading paper books and keeping newspapers for communication is a source of brain power, particularly during the first 35 years of our life (time in which we develop the capability of strategic agility); then why do we want to move towards everything digital, if we are not going to solve the problem of the trees destruction and degradation either? Isn´t the solution another one? The digital transformation won´t solve the problem of the destruction of trees.

Is strategic agility a notion that might be utilized to solve the issues of the water cycle in corporate strategy? Strategic agility means learning to foster the following brain dexterities: anticipate, experiment, distance to gain perspective, abstract, reframe, dialogue, reveal, integrate, align, care, decouple, disassemble, dissociate, switch, graft, and dissent. For Eleonora Escalante Strategy to use the strategic agility notion can help us to find a perspective of other solutions that are not being considered, but it is not enough. We certainly can utilize this notion of “strategic agility” if it helps us in some way to see the problem in its real dimension. But it is not sufficient. The water cycle should be included in all our decision-making. If this is not included at the corporate strategy level, our notion of applying strategic agility is dumb.

Our next subject: Adding strategic agility and water to our corporate strategy.

Strategic Music Section:

Why did we choose Leonidas Kavakos? Mr. Kavakos is another virtuoso of the violin. He plays the ‘Willemotte’ Stradivarius violin of 1734 and owns modern violins made by F. Leonhard, S.P. Greiner, E. Haahti and D. Bagué. You can read his biography here: . For many well-known experts of music, Kavakos is a special unique representative, to a point in which you can´t distinguish when he is playing LIVE, or when he is playing under the set-up of a recording studio like Sony Records.  That is why we shared with you the same piece of Bach´s concert last week in two different scenarios.  

It is not the same to produce art under all the safe variables of optimum performance, or when you are protected in a lab that keeps your sounds to a higher of all quality; than to play in the middle of a place where probably the physical acoustic and the stressful environment is affecting the result of the artist accomplishment. But Kavakos has been able to do it with equal or equivalent results. In corporate strategy, we also can´t deliver the same type of solutions when we are under stressful conditions, in comparison to when we are working with testing pilot projects, with no collateral damage to anyone. Strategic agility is one of the main capabilities (but not the only one), in which our dexterous and alert responsiveness can help us to think correctly. Nevertheless, is not the panacea nor the driver to make decisions correctly. It takes experience, dedication, learning from mistakes, and the virtuosity of a fantastic team that can help us to do things as if we are prodigious. Kavakos is an example of fineness that we wish to recognize in our saga, but he wouldn´t have made it if he didn´t have the masters, mentors, and team that have been accompanying him from the beginning of his adventure.

Songs of today are interpreted by Kyong Wha Chung. The first piece is from Wieniawski: Caprice in A minor. And the second one is a live interpretation from composer Johannes Brahms – Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77 with the Verbier Festival Orchestra conducted by Charles Dutoit, from the year 2016. Enjoy!.

See you next Friday 19th, with the 28th episode of “What´s up with water: Pouring water in your corporate strategy: Adding strategic agility and water to our corporate strategy?”. Good news for all: we are almost done. This lovely saga is going to end in 11 days. Subsequently, we will enter into 2 weeks of hibernation for resting/maintenance.  Our Autumn-Winter 2022 saga of the year will begin on September 9th. The AW2022 saga´s name is “Loving to read as a strategist”.

A new saga is coming as of September 9th: “Loving to read as a strategist” Stay tuned!

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

All the references are included in the slides.

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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