There are two types of strategic planning – Planned and Emergent.

In such a fast and volatile environment, it may be impossible to execute a planned strategy in 2023.  

A plan can be too formulaic and linear and unlikely to succeed in this changing environment. 

The only thing we can plan for is change itself. 

Often the type of strategy is chosen due to the preference of the person developing the plan, which eventually determines the company culture. 

I have learnt this by playing team sports. When a coach has a preference for systems and processes, it is excellent for creating understanding and a consistent approach.  

But, it can also stifle creativity and the ability to adapt to change.  

At the same time, a lack of systems can cause chaos and uncertainty.  

Ultimately our behaviour drives everything, and we know that behaviour is created in the brain.  

We know that brains have elasticity; they are malleable, organic and forever developing, and so are businesses. Things will change; the only way to cope with change is to be proactive and adaptable.

Create a framework for success

It would help if you created a ‘framework’ rather than a plan because when creating a framework, your team will be more flexible, accessible, and enjoy more autonomy.  

A framework falls between planned and emergent. 

By doing so, you will achieve ‘freedom within the framework’. I introduced this concept to day traders when trading in 2008/9.  

The traders needed some certainty with systems, but they also needed to remain intuitive and adaptable to the volatility. 

The speed of development in technology and A.I. is driving the pace of change. It will significantly impact your business in 2023, so predicting what will happen next is challenging.  

You’ll need to maintain clarity under pressure and take time to slow down your thinking. 

As the greatest Ice Hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky once said:

“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be”.  

The same is said in business and all walks of life. Your strategy will give you and your team direction and steps towards your vision.  

A good strategy aims to help you stay focused, especially when self-doubt and your ‘inner critic’ tries to throw you off track.  

Let me illustrate my point about emergent strategy with the story of the Hungarian platoon described by Karl Wick in a poem about a Hungarian reconnaissance unit lost in the Alps.  

In the poem, the soldiers faced an icy death in the Alps until their leader found a map, which he used to lead the platoon to safety. 

“We considered ourselves

lost and waited for the end. And then one of us

found a map in his pocket. That calmed us down.

We pitched camp, lasted out the snowstorm and then with the map

we discovered our bearings.

And here we are.

The lieutenant borrowed this remarkable map

and had a good look at it. It was not a map of the Alps

but of the Pyrenees.”

The map was not of the Alps but the Pyrenees. The poem exemplifies how a plan or a map is not necessarily the route to success. 

In this case, the map provided them with hope and purpose. Teams need a vision or a desired future state, as with the troops above, and it requires the right mindset, attitude and behaviours. 

The map was the ‘framework’ to help them navigate towards their goal.

Keep your team motivated with a Northstar – but remember the map may not be the territory, and that’s OK.