When I was first confirmed to speak at the Umbraco UK Festival for 2016, I did wonder how well my talk on strategy would go down. Whilst I’m certain that any industry could learn from better insights into how to manage their strategy journey, it did feel slightly outside the main focus of the Festival.
As I wrote my presentation I kept this in mind. What value could I give to my audience, who are developing with Umbraco? Then it struck me that this was the wrong question.
The key takeaway of my new book (coming in 2017) is that any business or venture can be successful if they follow the 5 steps of THE STRATEGY JOURNEY. With this in mind I realised that bringing a strategy mindset to developing, and technical project management, is where I could give true value here.
It is often said that you should know your audience. I don’t like to stereotype but I did feel that I was presenting to a room where I would be safe leading with the revelation that I’m a big fan of gaming, Starwars, Football and Formula One!
I particularly enjoy the game, Smallworld, as it gives a great example of strategy. I play constantly with my partner and often win. My strategy for the game is simple. I focus on winning each round that I’m currently playing, thinking ahead to the next fews rounds, but only with the big picture at the back of my mind. I look at the ecosystem. This gives me an overview of what powers my opponents might have available to them. Based on this I select my own accordingly and make specific moves. I definitely enjoy this stage where I am building my game plan. In building up lots of small wins, over and over again, I’m gaining momentum. This is key in THE STRATEGY JOURNEY®. Alongside strategy, it gives you the mindset of creating small wins. Strategy + Mindset + Execution will add up to the big win over time.
As I talked through the 5 steps of THE STRATEGY JOURNEY, I couldn’t help but use another of my favourite examples: Formula One. As well as being a big fan, I see it as another industry where strategy is the key differentiator between the performance of the teams. With an agile mindset, as well as a focus on accountability and action, any team can start on their path to building their very own Ferrari!
One attendee asked me afterwards what he needed to do if there were obstacles to tackle on his strategy journey through his tech projects. It was a great question, because obstacles are common. It’s all about doing your best, finishing the strategy cycle, learning, and starting again. It’s part and parcel of the agile project management process to have lots of little iterations, learn quickly by testing with users, and then move onto the next one. Remember, with agile development, your users or customers will often tell you what works, if anything, and what doesn’t work for them, which could be everything.
Failure is fine as long as you fail fast. THE STRATEGY JOURNEY framework tells you to move through its 5 steps and start again. There isn’t just one strategy journey that you must complete and that’s it. Success comes from completing lots of them, where you have many more wins than failures, to help you accumulate that big win. Ben Sweetland’s (author of Get Rich While You Sleep) famous quote sums this up:
“Success is a journey. Not a destination.”
I hope that, by sharing my passions and my own strategy journeys, I was able to speak to the attendees about bringing a winning strategy to theirs. And if not, I was pretty inspired by this tweet from @CharlesRoper. It’s always nice to know you’ve converted someone else to Formula 1!
@juliechoo Found your talk today super-inspiring. Looking forward to book! Will now pay more attn to F1! Had no idea they were so agile.
— Charles Roper (@charlesroper) November 4, 2016
.My talk was filmed by the guys at CodeNode and theCogWorks (great event, thanks and congrats). Here is the link to the youtube video:
Julie Choo is lead author of THE STRATEGY JOURNEY book (Coming in June/July 2019) and the founder of STRATABILITY ACADEMY. She speaks regularly at numerous tech, careers and entrepreneur events globally. Julie continues to consult at large Fortune 500 companies, Global Banks and tech start-ups. As a lover of all things strategic, she is a keen Formula One fan who named her dog, Kimi (after Raikkonnen), and follows football – favourite club changes based on where she calls home.