Emergent Strategist or Master Planner?
Working as an entrepreneur versus in a formal company role, I have had the opportunity to learn more about my authentic work style, the style that comes most naturally to me. I have realized that I am, at my core, an experiential learner. With a strong bias for action, I develop a broad-brush strategy, jump in, start experimenting, and learn and refine as I go. To be sure, I have always admired the people who are master planners, those who mastermind outcomes, especially since that is not my strong suit. I have often wished to be more like that.
But now I am starting to appreciate the benefits of my own natural work style…I call it “emergent strategizing.” It fits with my experiential learning style. My CFO for my consulting firm Funosophy, Inc. once said to me, “Nancy, you extract more learning from experience than anyone else I know.” Yes, learning and growing is my heartbeat.
One of the reasons I now feel more confident in my emergent approach is that several years ago, I read a great deal about neuroscience and evolution (45+ books, many academic). I came to appreciate the genius of Nature. “Nature programs for success” became my mantra as it relates to growth and development, whether it was about kids and play, growing a business, or my own growth and development. Turns out, Nature is an emergent strategist; through evolution, it tries a lot of things, does more of what works and prunes away what does not, always “learning” from experience. This is the model of sustainable growth.
Another reason I started embracing my emergent approach is that in the fast-moving tech industry, agile programming is becoming the preferred approach. The four values of agile are:
Finally, turning to the birthplace of strategy—war: the highly esteemed General Patton was on to something when he said, “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” (In business, I would replace “violently” with “aggressively.”) General Eisenhower offered up a more nuanced version: “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Beyond all this philosophy, I think we can all acknowledge the speed of change is accelerating in the toy and game industry. Trends are coming and going ever more quickly. Whether we are naturally a master planner or an emergent strategist, we all have a vested interest in becoming more agile!