Sunday, July 27, 2014

How to navigate without a map?

People often talk about competition between companies as being like playing a game of chess. Unfortunately it's a game of chess in which few are able to see the board i.e. the landscape that an organisation operates within. For the last decade, I've been using a mapping technique to describe competitive environments and exploited them accordingly.

But what if you don't have a map? What if all you have are box and wire diagrams like IT systems or business process diagrams? Well, without a map then the most common technique for strategy appears to be copy others (i.e. backward causality). Without a map, the most common technique for describing such a strategy is story telling.

There's actually a lot of precedents in the physical world. Before people had maps they often described the routes of long journeys through story telling. A recent example of this to come to light is the use of astronomical markers in Aboriginal songs.

So, how do you navigate without a map? Well, you tell a story.