Strategy: More like an Algorithm than a Roadmap

Perhaps you’ve seen the video of Boston Dynamics’ robot Atlas exiting their building for a walk in a snow-covered forest, “going to work” stacking boxes in a warehouse, getting up after being toppled by a human, and then leaving for the day, presumably heading out for more adventures. It is remarkable on many, many levels but the one that is most interesting to us at the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab is that everything Atlas does is governed by a set of simple rules.

Most previous generations of robots were built and programmed to accomplish specific tasks, lift car doors and place them on the automobile frame, for instance. Another robot would place and tighten the door’s bolts. These sorts of robots know exactly what they are to do and they do it over and over. Atlas, on the other hand, has no prior knowledge of the surfaces in front of it or that a human coworker is going to give him a good whack with a big stick. The algorithms, or simple rules, Atlas follows enable agility and adaptiveness to whatever comes its way. Atlas is less “machine” and more “complex adaptive system.” That’s an entirely new way to think about robots, one the requires a different sort of programming.

That’s the approach we take in our work at the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab. Our agile strategy discipline Strategic Doing, offers a set of ten simple rules, a strategy algorithm if you will, that allows organizations to be agile and function like the complex adaptive systems they are. The rules Atlas follows may be simple; but they took time to incorporate into its design. The same will be true of your organization, should you chose to begin following a strategy algorithm. A stragegy algorithm will be no good if it is limited to just the CEO or the Chief Strategy Officer. The set of rules will need to be applied enterprise wide.

A strategy algorithm will be no good if is limited to just the CEO or Chief Strategy Officer. 

Strategy should be much more like an algorithm than a roadmap. If your current strategy seems to have played itself out and you are unsure what the terrain ahead might be like. Or, if you want to be able to quickly regain your balance in case you sustain an unexpected blow, connect with us. We would be happy to share with you our approach to strategy. Perhaps the Ten Simple Rules of Strategic Doing might be just the algorithm you need.

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