The heartful strategist – part 1
RAVI VENKATESAN starts a new series for 2020, exploring the role of consciousness in developing strategy, and how to actively develop this potential through the expansion of consciousness.
As a student at business school I found Strategy to be the subject fascinating beyond all others. It carried the potential to provide highly transformative skills. The study of strategies and strategists seemed to indicate that the major shifts and changes in human civilization were, in many cases, caused by those men and women who advised the kings, generals and leaders of their times.
These strategists were the best thinkers, the best analysts, the best visionaries, and the ones who had the highest intuitive capacity and access to inspiration. Though they came from various fields, most strategists were traditionally military and political advisors, like Sun Tzu, Kautilya and Machiavelli. In ancient traditions these strategists were thought to have mystical powers and access to sources beyond traditional knowledge, for example, the shamans of tribal cultures.
In modern times, strategists are also common in the business world, in addition to politics and the military, and the role of Chief Strategy Officer has assumed significance in the last three decades.
In a Harvard Business Review article, “What Makes a Great Chief Strategy Officer,” the authors describe a few archetypes of strategists. These provide a great perspective on the role:
Architects look for industry shifts and understand their organization’s source of advantage.
Visionaries know how to forecast trends and innovate.
Surveyors look for trends for long-range planning and have their eyes on the horizon.
Mobilizers drive alignment across the organization.
Fund Managers optimize the organization’s investments.
What is common to all these archetypes is the concept of synthesizing available information and insights and making optimal choices. This raises a big question: For whom are these choices optimal? The traditional answer is: The organization or community or country that the strategist serves.
Strategy is all about synthesizing information and making choices. These choices have consequences that generate outcomes that impact our entire ecosystem.
As we look deeper into the lives of top strategists from the past, we find a mix of success and failure. We also find patterns that indicate that each of them made choices to optimize outcomes based on their consciousness about those whose interests they served. In many cases their perception of their ecosystem was narrower than what it could or should have been, which led to sub-optimal outcomes. Sometimes they made choices that were great for the short-term but not for the long-term. At other times their choices were great for one set of stakeholders but not for others. In many cases, even the best strategists reflected a lack of correct thinking and right understanding. Sometimes they lacked integrity and made unethical or immoral choices, which over time came back to bite them. The mindset of these strategists was dominated by a win-lose approach, where someone was winning and someone was losing. This was because of a misunderstanding of what they thought was their ecosystem of stakeholders.
At the end of the day, the strategist uses her mental faculties to develop strategies. Consciousness is the very basis of these faculties – mind, intellect and ego being the other major components.
So how can we refine these faculties to develop better strategies?
How can we establish a consciousness level that promotes correct thinking, right understanding, and an approach that reflects the highest ethical and moral standards?
Can we become strategists who will always develop strategies that generate the best outcomes for all in a consistent manner?
We will explore these ideas in this series of articles by developing the archetype of a Heartful Strategist – one who uses expansion of consciousness as a way to become the best strategist she can be.
The inputs from the external world feed our consciousness. The strategies we develop lead to the choices we make; these lead to consequences that create outcomes. These outcomes transform the ecosystem that we are part of. All these become inputs that modify our consciousness, and further influence our strategies.
In the next few articles we’ll explore how to understand and use consciousness as a way to develop the best strategies for all.
Article by RAVI VENKATESAN
February 06, 2020
February 03, 2020
February 03, 2020