Organizing Flexibility

Compass RailroadWhen planning strategically, you can know what you want to do and raise your chance of succeeding without necessarily knowing exactly how you will do it.  You can set a direction that makes sense even if you do not know all the checkpoints along the way, and still have a very good chance of arriving at your destination.  This is very important to understand regarding IP because a lot of IP is created from a profession, that of R&D, that inherently works without the “how” part of a plan fully defined.

R&D very much focuses on creating new or better “how’s,” which may not always be the “how’s” you expected or wanted, but could still be “how’s” you can use.  R&D is a sloppy process where researchers seeking to solve one problem may easily find themselves solving another instead.  As one pharmaceutical executive told me, R&D can just as often involve creating something interesting and then figuring out what to do with it than target any particular ailment at the outset.

The single best way to organize flexibility in your strategic planning is to choose a direction and set in place measures that drive out the uncertainties you can control.  Driving out uncertainties you can control frees up more of your creativity to address the uncertainties that you cannot control, thereby raising the probability that you will engineer a way to succeed along your chosen direction.  Given the reality that most plans specifying how to succeed will not survive first contact with adversity, organizing flexibility around a strategically sound direction is generally your better bet for success.

Image credit: Hemera

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