Sporf Strategy: Beware #28daysofwriting
I picked up this Sporf in Amsterdam Schipol airport. A spork I'd seen before, but the addition of a simple serration on the side of the fork end makes this a genuine "three-in-one" implement for eating one's full three-course takeaway meal on the plane. The sporf is no innovation; back in 1940 the "sporf" was born. It took me until 2015 to notice this one thanks to its rather pleasant design.
The sporf is a little like most strategy documents that I come across. It is one implement designed to serve a multitude of goals, but with one fatal flaw: you can only ever use one part of the sporf / strategy at any one time. With the sporf, things would get messy trying to use the spoon and knife and the same time. The knife and fork work quite well in sequence but physics prevents me using both at the same time as I can with the older technologies of knife and fork.
In strategy formation, we can develop a multitude of potential purposes within one document, killer vision statement or mission. But it's important to recognise that the teams around us will only ever be able to do one thing really well at any one time. This is a lesson oft ignored by schools, in particular, as they attempt to ask educators to create an ever-more creative curriculum without having first tackled attitudes towards summative assessments throughout the year.
It is also a challenge in some of the world's most successful, but now stagnating, big businesses: they've spent decades or centuries building a reputation across a large array of devices, technologies, components or clothing, but the real strategy is working out which of the current array needs killed off to enable teams in their quest to develop something totally new, properly innovative.
It's the reason I added the "...and actually make them happen" to my "How to come up with great ideas" book. Writing a sporf strategy is easy: you just need to keep adding components. But, to actually make those strategies happen you need to thump out the timetable of development and delivery very carefully, for, no matter how talented your team, or how many bodies on the ground you have, the institution can only ever move forward on one big idea at a time.