In my favorite vacation spot there is a rocking chair with a great view. It sits near a window with a view of an old apple tree that draws the local deer. A little further across a well mowed field is a carefully tended flower garden that has something colorful in bloom from early spring to late fall.
The Perfect Window?
You might think it is the perfect window for a view. It is not.
If I turn the rocking chair just 90 degrees I gain a view of a hardwood forest with an inviting walking trail. It is beautiful any time of year but breathtaking in the fall when the many maples explode with red leaves. You might think this gives me everything I could ask for in a vacation spot. It does not.
Wait, There’s MORE!
Sort of like the infamous ginsu knives of tv commercial fame – by turning my rocking chair another 90 degrees I have a view of a small lake stocked with what makes for great fishing. There is an inviting dock and a small row boat ready to go.
What’s this got to do with strategy?
One of the many “tools” every strategy consultant has in their strategy toolbox is a technique called “gap analysis”. It is a useful tool – if you understand it’s limitations.
Like a window
Windows are great for seeing things. Windows also limit your view. I can’t see the hardwood forest or the small lake if I only look though the first window.
A useful window
My experience with gap analysis is that it is a very useful tool to give a view into an organization. By looking through this one window however, sometimes useful things can be missed.
Two other “strategic windows”
I have learned to “turn my rocking chair” at least twice. One turn is to look through the “barriers” window”. These are things that keep important things from being done. They exist in the form of outdated polices or aging infrastructure. They are barriers to strategic innovation.
The other window is “bridges”. These are things that already exist within the organization that can be repurposed to accomplish strategic initiatives. One organization repurposed their mailing list as the starting point for a useful data base. Much of the work was already done and inexpensive new software made this a useful tool.
Is there another window?
I wouldn’t make my “rocking chair and window” picture walk on all fours but I keep wondering: Is there another “window” that is helpful in assessing an organization?
I’d love to hear your strategic insights.