Orientation Options

Our options here are different than those in configuration, where we’re picking from a basket of options based on which tradeoffs we prefer. In orienting a whole organization or its various component parts, we can use a number of well-understood practices for pointing the business in one direction or another, and apply specific plays based on the situation we find ourselves in.

When the means and ends are clear – think production lines, nuclear reactors, piloting an airplane – we can use orienting practices like Six Sigma, Toyota Production System, and even simple checklists to eliminate foreseeable defects.

When either means or ends (or both!) are unclear – think startups, innovation teams, development and implementation of new technologies, and even unexpectedly complex tasks like “integrating across siloes” – we can use orienting practices like Lean Startup, Agile, and Consent-Based Decision-Making to harness collective wisdom and customer insight as we make calls.

These aren’t strategies. They’re things we can do to do a better job of connecting strategy and execution.

Aside: there’s a reason why Orient is part of the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) Loop. Observe-Strategize-Decide-Act (OSDA) is basically the same as Observe-Make a PowerPoint-Maybe Decide-Don’t Act (OMAPMDDA).

Some ways of orienting fit better with some configurations, but a key point is that ways of orienting are learnable and transmissible between teams and organizations. Strategies, in general, should not be. Otherwise they’re not very good strategies.

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