When you’re busy executing on tasks, it can be super easy to forget about setting time aside to think about strategy.
But you should. For a number of reasons.
First of all you need to always make sure that what you’re working on is taking you in the right direction. There is the old saying that while a manager is the one leading the struggle through the jungle, the leader is the one making sure you are in the right jungle to begin with.
Be the leader.
Second, thinking about strategy is what keeps you curious about the market you are operating in. It keeps you focused on your customers and their needs, on the competition and on emerging trends in technology and behavior.
All of these inform what you should be doing. And most importantly: They enable you to course correct on the fly.
Third, thinking about strategy on the go is what keeps you from having to start your strategy all over from scratch again. It enables you to mold and update your strategy, as you go, based on learnings. And thus captures the value of all your hard work – even the work that didn’t end according to plan.
Finally, thinking about strategy broadens your horizon and keeps you sharp. Think about it as essential training; with enough training you go from being a simple recruit to a Navy Seal. It’s just a matter of discipline and hard work.
So don’t ever let anyone tell you, you shouldn’t think about strategy, ok?
There is nothing as potent to pave the way to success as being in control.
There is nothing so blocking to success than to insist on being in control.
To some being in control is an all positive thing; it enables you to define the path to follow forward and ensure the necessary decisions are being made and the focus is on relentless execution towards a goal. The bigger, the better.
To others being in control comes with such a daunting sense of responsibility that you would rather not have it and potentially not do anything at all for the sheer fear of what happens if or when something goes wrong.
Some loathe not being able to be in control and will walk away from a potential opportunity just for the lack of being able to be in control. Others loathe being controlled and not being in a position to challenge the course of action, i.e. exert control, and will refrain from putting themselves into that position.
And some just hate that excess talk about control can ultimately block every path to future success.
Because at the end of the day some sort of control is needed to achieve great success.
Because if there is one thing that remains certain, it is that great success does not arise from a completely lack of control.
When trying to build a startup ground up, there are a ton of different tasks that need to get done. And keeping track of it all is essential.
But how do you do that efficiently?
For me I have resorted to using a combination of Trello and OKR.
We use OKR’s to define our objectives. We essentially view those as desired outcomes where it’s up to the people involved to do whatever is necessary or efficient to achieve said outcome.
It turns our that Trello is pretty good at keeping track of those objectives. And in a very simple way:
What we do is essentially to take our objective, create a new board and then name that board with the text of the objective.
By doing that we have a consolidated view of objectives, and we can dig into the individual objective, define key results and work on those in a kanban way, while we comment, assign tasks across team members and much more.
The key here is that if we want to get an update on where we’re currently at with the work towards a specific objective, we can just dig into that specific board.
Of course it still takes discipline to work within the confines of Trello and make sure that it gets used, and we’re still rehearsing on making sure that happens.
But so far our experiences are good. And I highly recommend it as an efficient method for keeping track of your progress against your OKRs.
This has prompted some to claim that their time is up, and that their model of copying others successful ideas was never a viable one to begin with.
But that’s totally not true. Zalando alone is amble proof.
Instead what we could use this opportunity to discuss is what’s more valuable: Idea or execution? And by extension: What is the hardest one to get right?
If we look at it from that perspective there is very little doubt in my mind that Rocket Internet is a powerhouse when it comes to execution. What they may lack in brilliant, novel ideas, they more than make up for in razor sharp relentless execution.
And what makes the difference at the end of the day is execution; what actually gets out there and it’s ability to generate value for all parties concerned.
This doesn’t mean that you should only focus on being stellar at execution. Because what at the end of the day move us forward as society is brilliant novel ideas executed really well.
So it’s really not a question about idea or execution. It’s a question about idea AND execution. And realizing that it takes just as much (often actually more) to execute really, really well than it takes to come up with that spark of brilliance to begin with.
Some people might need a guide to sourcing disruptive ideas. For the rest of us, we all – I bet – are painfully aware of where we tend to have our most bright flashes or epiphany moments.
For us it is more a question about being able to capture them than to get to them in the first place. I for one am one of those people that tend to get ideas in the shower, and it is not always that practical, when you know you need to jot something down now, before you forget the train of thought, when you’re all covered by soap, and the water is running.
Where do you get your most inspired moments? And what do you do to safe them for eternity? And when you save them, what usually happens afterwards with them? Do you act on them? Why? Why not? And how do you make the distinction? I am curious to know.
This summer I am trying to teach myself how to do visual programming using Bubble. I have been trying to get a better understanding of coding for years but never had the patience for it. Bubbles visual approach is a lot more appealing to me.
Why am I doing it? Because I like being able to execute on the ideas, we’re working with at inQvation Studio. I like being able to take the next step from a workshop or a discussion and actually get things done. Be concrete. Get something out there.
I am very aware that what we can do with tools such as Bubble or Unbounce or Typeform and what have you is not the finished article. Not by a stretch. But it is something. It moves the needle in the right direction for what we are trying to do at the studio team. And it is a lot better than nothing.