In strategy, how you move is the second most important thing

One of the most focused upon elements of Strategy is Game Play; which can be viewed as “how you move”, but one of the things I’ve been learning recently is that movement, like many things, depends on space in order to exist.

Game Play (Movement)
Game Play relates to the steps we need to take in order to progress, as well as our skill in taking these steps. Game Play often comes up when you’re trying to figure out “how-to” do something.

  1. How do I win at Chess?
  2. How do I manage a project?
  3. How do I develop my career?
  4. How do I transform my business?

Space refers to the context in which game play happens (or in which moves will be made) and it’s more likely you’ll hear it described as “Market Conditions”, “Business Climate”, “Social Setting”, “Political Environment”, etc.

Space represents our specific situation, without which various problems can occur:

  • Challenging to move with the right sense of urgency
  • Acting too soon
  • Making the move incorrectly
  • Making the wrong move

To emphasise this, I’ve taken the same 4 questions I listed earlier and repositioned them with more context (Space):

  1. I’ve been playing chess for years and I’m playing a complete beginner tomorrow, how do I win?
  2. I have an App Idea, there are some similar apps out there, and some are doing quite well, mine has some unique features and relative improvements, how do I know if my app will be successful?
  3. Key stakeholders are expecting all of our features to be delivered “Big Bang” in one release, and it’s unclear whether they’d be willing to shift their mind set to a phased delivery, how do I manage this situation and this project?
  4. I’ve seen people getting layed off over the past few years, our leaders are resistent to changing some of our traditional offerings which are quickly becoming dated, how should I grow my career?

Firstly, the questions are elevated to a new level when environmental context is injected into them, and OK, secondly this seems pretty obvious. But the reality is that when it comes to business strategy, or any other complicated decision, I think there’s a real risk that, we’re so focused on moving or learning how to move, that we don’t initially step back and ask about the space we’re moving in.

This post is going to get a little long if I start talking about frameworks that actually help us step back and do this, so I’ll wrap this up here, and come back to these frameworks in a future post.

But I will leave you with a question: When do you last remember asking yourself: “Should I be doing this at all?”

Doesn’t matter what the specific context is, I’d love to hear from you.