Deconstructing the elements of strategic thinking for Agile R&D

brain_on_fireCan people be strategic on purpose and how hard is that?

Strategies are like opinions, everyone is bound to have one, but the quality of them is tremendously variable.  Apple, Blackberry, Nokia, Microsoft and Google all have mobile technology strategies, but vastly different results, especially over time.  Not all strategies are created equally and must also be frequently adapted and evolved.

Most of the time, successful strategies are only understood in hindsight, even by the people executing them.  After the iPod was a clear winner, stories about their strategic foresight around building a product ecosystem seemed to abound.  Of course, all the technology investment and partnership risks would not be as glowingly praised if the iPod had turned out more like the iMac or the Newton.  The fact that Apple’s current industry position appears fragile and temporary shows the fleeting nature of all business strategy.

But the question remains, what is the secret sauce of strategy and can it be broken down into a set of skills that anyone can develop and follow?

Doing Things Right vs Doing the Right Things

Efficiency at a specific development task could be considered waste if done on a program that performs poorly in the market.  Greg Githens, aka “The Strategic Thinking Coach“, believes that when it comes to leading R&D and product development most people’s current problem solving skills can be the building blocks to strategic thinking, but that most people have not conditioned themselves to bridge the gaps and make the right connections.

These gaps include:

  • The ability to envision a product’s value stream and see connections that create strategic value for the company
  • The ability to create a strategic vision, communicate it clearly to others and use it as a driver and motivator
  • Seeing the total enterprise as a system and how each piece works together to deliver on the strategy

Understanding how to switch into this mode and how to track and manage the output of your strategic thinking is one of the keys to keeping strategic thought more organized rather than random brainstorms.

Greg Githens will be sharing his experiences coaching R&D executives on strategic thinking at an upcoming FREE webinar from Management Roundtable:



One thought on “Deconstructing the elements of strategic thinking for Agile R&D

  1. Harper says:

    Very informative post agile Methodologies are usually recommended for small projects that require immediate resolution for teams of 2 and with direct user involvement. Agile techniques are gaining popularity in software development because we’ve learned how to reduce the slope of the cost of change curve for software more than we have for physical objects like bridges and houses.

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