Welcome to Ten Thousand and Two
Where innovation and strategy get kicked around, but stay best friends
Ten thousand and two is focused on the ‘doing’ of innovation and strategy. It’s born in part from what we've learnt (and continue to learn) in helping businesses and organisations be more strategic and innovative; and in part from a curiosity about the world around us - how it’s changing and how we might make it better.
10,000 and two?
Ten thousand and two because this is where we believe strategy and innovation simultaneously exist: at ten thousand feet above the earth and two inches above the ground.
10,000 feet is about vision.
Seeing to the horizon, the lay of the land, plotting a course.
It’s about making the important decisions about where we will go from here and, equally importantly, what we will not go.
It is strategy as vision. From up here, the ground below seems smooth, the path clear to see.
10,000 is interested in shifts in technologies, societies, economies and business models. It focuses on what’s changing, what’s fixed, what that makes possible and where it might take us. It’s necessarily assumptive and hypothetical, it’s restless and ambitious, it sets the course for innovation.
Two inches is about action
It’s about the practical, pragmatic process of ‘doing’ innovation, executing the strategy, dealing with the messy realities of making it real in pursuit of the vision.
Down here, in the minutiae of the day to day, obstacles must be navigated, assumptions must be challenged, new paths must be forged, scrappy creativity and grit win.
Two inches is interested in how strategy must confront and adapt to day to day reality in organisations, businesses models and people. It deals in culture and human behaviour, in real numbers, in making progress, in speed of learning.
From two inches to 10,000 feet… and back
For any organisation - from start-up to scale-up to trillion dollar enterprise, the version of strategy as a once-a-year planning exercise that is followed by relentless implementation of the plan is dead and buried. But the need to think into the future and to have a flexibility about that thinking is more important than ever. As the future is increasingly variable, simply maintaining business as usual has a shorter and shorter time horizon.
Equally innovation cannot simply be a pursuit of the new without a vision and a reason for why it is right for us, right now.
We believe that strategy and innovation can be understood and explained as a rich story of connecting themes about the evolution of the external environment and the rightful place of the organisation within that. It integrates assumptions about the future and how a business might shift its offer, capabilities and probably also its business model to find a winning fit.
Like any assumptive view of the future (and increasingly so now) it’s probably wrong to start with, but the purpose of the narrative and plan isn’t to execute, but rather to create a way of processing the future insight.
This push of business to pick a path that is plausible, valuable and uniquely theirs asks them to understand the interconnections and interdependencies between where they are, and where they want to go.
Having this logic means that when the future doesn’t pan out as expected, you can trace your logic back to the point of inflection, recalibrate, reframe and refresh. Without this joined-up view there is just too much data flying around to know what to look at and where to look.
Apollo 13 was reportedly on course just 2% of the time
Strategy and innovation are a similar blend of vision and course correction - a constant interplay between taking bets on the future and then adapting the trajectory as more insight arrives. A constant toggling between 10,000 ft and two inches.
Without the big picture there is no narrative, nothing to keep an eye on. Without the detail there is no understanding of the feasibility, nor the necessary feedback loop.
What we believe - and what we’ll cover
1. Change is the oxygen
The world is changing faster than ever - the changes are compounding - increasing the possibility for change. The time horizon for business models is compressing, but the changes that are causing this are also opening up the opportunity aperture for businesses willing to look up.
🚀 Expect perspectives on the evidence, direction and implication of change
2. Pattern recognition is a superpower
Innovation means getting out of your lane. Spotting unexpected similarities in disparate things is the quickest way to do this.
🧩 Expect pattern matching and interpretation: this looks a bit like that, and what that might mean
3. End customers don’t buy strategy, they buy products
Strategists who get seduced by the elegance of the argument and the beauty of the slides will always be frustrated by the messiness of the reality when a strategy meets real customers in the real world. Customers don’t buy perfect powerpoint slides, they buy the stuff that the strategy imagines: the product, the service, the experience. Strategy is nothing without execution.
🙃 Expect observations and implications of emerging customer behaviours - and what that means for innovation
4. Your first theory is probably wrong, so get real, fast
It’s a complex world out there. Trying to figure out what’s going on before you do anything means you could be waiting a very long time - as Hemingway said, ‘the first draft of anything is shit’. The Cynefin Framework argues that in a complex environment the only way to understand what is going on is to intervene. Getting going means learning, learning means framing and creating.
🥊 Expect battle scars and fresh thoughts on how to test, move fast and make progress
5. Keep bouncing
To spot the patterns you need to keep bouncing between the detail and the big picture. Strategy and delivery are the same thing. Creating a weird sense of separateness is what gets companies into the wrong place. Success is adapting to what you are learning and how you are enriching your story. It’s a heads up look at the world and the context and the outcomes, not a heads down management of a process and milestones.
🏀 Expect examples of strategy and delivery in action - the bounce is real
6. Strategy and innovation are creative disciplines
It should be exciting, enriching, fun. It doesn’t need a suit or tie, it doesn’t respect hierarchy or corporate bullshit. Powerpoint is where innovation goes to die.
🧪 Expect tools, tales and inspiration for practical strategy and innovation
Join the journey
Subscribe for long form essays and bite-sized observations twice a month, opinions but not certainty, sharing of experiences, some learning, some hypotheses worth exploring, and links to other insights and great reflections. This is a big sprawling space and there are a gazillion great articles about this topic, we want to share those, connect them up and provide a lens to understand how they fit together. Toby will be #oftenwrongbutneverindoubt, Tom promises #curiosity #questions and #unexpectedconnections - let’s do this!