Introduction: What is strategy and why do you need it?

What is strategy? Why do you need it? How do you do it? And, how can you be more certain to succeed? The Art of Strategy provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Sun Tzu’s Art of War using the lenses of strategists John Boyd and Simon Wardley (swardley).

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和 (Hé) Harmony. Photo by Erik Schön (CC BY-SA 4.0).

The Art of Strategy is a short introduction to strategy through the insights of three successful strategists: Sun Tzu (c. 551–496 BC), John Boyd (1927–1997) and Simon Wardley (swardley).

It is a modern reading of Sun Tzu’s Art of War — the strategy classic written in China around 500 BC — using the lenses of Boyd (OODA Loop inventor) and Wardley (Wardley Map inventor). …


How To Be (More) Certain To Succeed

Would you like a quick, hands-on introduction to strategy? Then, please join me on this tour over 2 500 years where we discover eternal, universal patterns and examples useful for individuals, teams, and organizations — starting from purpose via strategic learning loops to maps that visualize your evolving business and technology landscape.

How Can We Be (More) Certain To Succeed

Parts of the world have always been volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous — think of tsunamis, freak waves, wars, the Black Death in Europe in the Middle Ages, …

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The Wave of the Future — Digital Transformation of The Great Wave. Illustration: Kirpich and Berry

Now, the digital transformation towards software and world-wide communication is increasing the speed by several orders of magnitude since its travels so much faster than atoms. …


Challenge Your Wardley Mapping Assumptions in a Friendly Way!

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Photo: Artem Maltsev on Unsplash.

“You gotta challenge all assumptions. If you don’t, what is doctrine on day one becomes dogma forever after.” John Boyd, Strategist, Inventor of the OODA “Loop”

Introduction

It is important to challenge your own and your team’s assumptions — in a friendly way — in order to learn and get better at creating strategy. One way of doing this is using Wardley Mapping of the evolving business and technology landscape — making implicit assumptions explicit on a map.

When creating strategy, before doing context specific gameplays, it is important to start with assessing and improving your doctrine: the universally useful principles guiding your ways of operating, organising and communicating. …


How To Spot Technology Trends and Make Them Happen

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“The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.” Pat MacDonald

How do we visualize the present to create the future? One way to predict the future is to create it collaboratively guided by Supertrends and Wardley Maps. By mapping the technology and business landscape, we can start anticipating the future by looking at patterns of technology and business evolution, and then, start making informed choices on what to do.

Seeing Around Corners

How do you see around corners? Like this?

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Photo: John Mangiameli

Using a smart tool?

Or like this?

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Photo: technophobia.com

Using a smart human solution?

Or, using a combination of smart tools and smart humans?

Professor Rita Gunther McGrath of Columbia Business School has been researching innovation and strategy, since the 90s. …


13. How to use intelligence to create foreknowledge

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Photo: Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash.

What is strategy? Why do you need it? How do you do it? And, how can you be more certain to succeed? The Art of Strategy provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Sun Tzu’s Art of War using the lenses of strategists John Boyd and Simon Wardley (swardley). (All parts; other reading and viewing formats).

Sun Tzu

Engagements and entering new areas drain the organization severely — psychologically, socially and financially:
existing and new areas in turmoil;
people on the move, exhausted;
stakeholders unable to cope.

Engagements lasting several years could be decided in a single day.
And yet, there are miserly people unwilling to fund intelligence operations. …


12. How to disrupt and avoid being disrupted

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Photo: Daphne on Unsplash

What is strategy?

Why do you need it?

How do you do it?

And, how can you be more certain to succeed?

The Art of Strategy provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Sun Tzu’s Art of War using the lenses of strategists John Boyd and Simon Wardley (swardley). (All parts; other reading and viewing formats).

In memory of Joe Armstrong, one of the inventors of the concurrent, functional programming language Erlang and a friendly disruptor.

Sun Tzu

There are different types of disruption and destruction.

Creative destruction tears down and clears away the existing so that a new eco-system can be built. …


11. How to handle difficult situations

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Photo: zhan zhang on Unsplash

What is strategy? Why do you need it? How do you do it? And, how can you be more certain to succeed? The Art of Strategy provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Sun Tzu’s Art of War using the lenses of strategists John Boyd and Simon Wardley (swardley). (All parts; other reading and viewing formats).

Sun Tzu

Situations can be divisive, liminal, contested, insecure, focal, critical, difficult, surrounded and deadly.

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場 (Chǎng) Situation. Calligraphy © Hisayo Oki

A situation is:
divisive when stakeholders engage among themselves;
liminal when entering shallowly into competitors’ areas;
contested when establishing in an area is advantageous for all;
insecure when enter and leaving an area is easy for all;
focal when an area is surrounded by competition and first establishment secures society’s support;
critical when entering deeply into competitors’ areas;
difficult when obstacles make it hard to move;
surrounded when the entrance is narrow, the exit circuitous, allowing competition to engage many with few;
deadly when engaging with full momentum succeeds and engaging with less than full momentum fails. …


10. How to approach difficult areas

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Photo: pine watt on Unsplash

What is strategy? Why do you need it? How do you do it? And, how can you be more certain to succeed? The Art of Strategy provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Sun Tzu’s Art of War using the lenses of strategists John Boyd and Simon Wardley (swardley). (All parts; other reading and viewing formats).

Sun Tzu

Landscape can be accessible, irreversible, deadlocked, enclosed, steep or distant.

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地 (Dì) Land. Calligraphy © Hisayo Oki

An area is accessible if movement is easy for all. …


Annex: A collection of valuable maps

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Photo: Chris Lawton on Unsplash

What is strategy? Why do you need it? How do you do it? And, how can you be more certain to succeed? The Art of Strategy provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Sun Tzu’s Art of War using the lenses of strategists John Boyd and Simon Wardley (swardley).

(All parts; other reading and viewing formats).

Eco-System Gameplay: Microsoft & GitHub

Chris Adams (12 min read)
Reverse engineering Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub as an example of the Innovate, Leverage, Commoditize (ILC) gameplay.

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Plotting a Path to a Greener Web

Chris Adams (15 min read)
Work for the Green Web Foundation on how to use open data and open source to help speed the transition to an internet running on renewable power, e.g. …


SAFe Pros & Cons with Arne Roock, Håkan Forss & Erik Schön

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SAFe: A black hole? Photo: Shutterstock

Arne Roock and Håkan Forss are good friends of mine and incredibly experienced Lean/Agile organization coaches who have made substantial contributions to advancing the Lean/Agile/Kanban community. Since Arne moved to Stockholm in 2017, we get to meet and talk more regularly. In several of these conversations we touched the pros and cons of the SAFe framework. We agreed that we would need a longer discussion to properly discuss the topic, so Arne invited Håkan and me, and we recorded our conversation, which went on for over an hour. When we had dinner later that evening, Håkan said that he felt like he had been roasted (of course in a very friendly way). Although this was not our intention, we all agreed that it would be a great concept :-) Here’s the second part of our Lean-Agile Roast on SAFe. Part one and three are posted on Arne’s and Håkan’s blogs. If you prefer to listen to the whole conversation, you can download the audio file here.

About

Erik Schön

Executive and strategist who has successfully developed and deployed strategy for over 20 years in small, medium and large organizations.

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