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Chapter 18. Strategy as a Pool of Experiments

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.

Theodore Roosevelt

Strategy is usually considered the province of senior executives. But senior executives are in some ways the least qualified to envision the future, because they are the most invested in the past and the least likely to be around in the long term. In a connected company, strategy happens at all levels, across diverse groups and different time scales, generating a rich pool of experiments for senior leaders to draw from.

Strategies Don’t Last Forever

Some things, like the job you do for customers, remain relatively constant over time. Other things, like technology, can be counted on to evolve rapidly and continually create opportunities for companies to disrupt competitors.

Successful strategies can become obsolete. Any successful strategy will attract copycats. Management expert Gary Hamel calls this phenomenon strategy decay.

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Therefore, strategies must evolve to some degree over time as circumstances change. Sometimes, slow, incremental change is enough keep you ahead of competitors, so long as the environmental conditions don’t change too drastically. But technology is a bitch. It affects every industry, often in ways that are difficult (if not impossible) to ...

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