Strategic Doing | Edward Morrison

Summary of: Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership
By: Edward Morrison


Welcome to the intriguing world of ‘Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership’ by Edward Morrison. In this enlightening book, you will explore the concept of strategic intuition, which goes beyond ordinary and expert intuition to produce new ideas through reasoning and pattern recognition. Delve into the significance of history, learning from past achievements, and crossing disciplines to ignite creative combinations. You will witness the power of strategic intuition as demonstrated by iconic figures like Napoléon I, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Pablo Picasso, who have successfully combined existing elements in innovative ways to change the world. Enrich your leadership skills by comprehending the nexus between presence of mind and the sudden flash of insight that paves the way for exceptional strategies.

The Three Types of Intuition

Discover where sudden insights come from in this book summary. Researchers in neuroscience and cognitive psychology synthesize insights from various fields to explain the “Aha!” moments in terms of ordinary, expert, and strategic intuition. Memory and sudden flashes of insight play a crucial role in expert intuition, making it incredibly valuable in situations where the future will be like the past. However, for creating a different future, strategic intuition becomes essential. Thomas Kuhn’s concept of paradigm shift and Roger Sperry’s research on the two-sided brain are also discussed to provide better models for the genesis of intuition. Overall, this summary highlights the need for working and studying over time to produce the insight that defines a goal, implying the path to take.

Insights on Strategic Intuition

Learn how strategic intuition works and how it can be developed by combining elements of historical examples and innovation.

The term “strategy” came into use in 1810, which was a defining year for two reasons: Napoléon I enjoyed his greatest triumphs, and Carl von Clausewitz “became a strategist.” Napoléon utilized strategic intuition, a process of drawing ideas from multiple sources and combining them in innovative ways to achieve breakthroughs.

Napoléon developed his plan of action by studying contour maps and using light cannons, which allowed him to haul and reposition them quickly. He also drew inspiration from historical examples, including Henry Knox’s cannon placement to threaten British forces and Joan of Arc’s smaller fort conquests around cities. This type of strategic intuition involves deriving highly useful breakthroughs by combining elements in a new way.

Von Clausewitz, in his theoretical writings on strategy, discussed the general pattern that could generate the coup d’oeil (quick insight), which he saw as central to strategy. According to von Clausewitz, studying history to learn from examples, abandoning any preconceived notions of goals and battle plans, and using presence of mind to detect new goals that arise from actual conditions are keystones to generating insights.

Jomini’s strategic model, which is simpler and more linear, became dominant in strategic planning because of combining insider credibility with conceptual and linguistic simplicity, despite von Clausewitz’s penetrating analysis.

The Asian tradition of military strategy is more philosophical and draws on Asian spiritual disciplines such as the beginner’s mind and dharma. The beginner’s mind means fresh thinking but not ignorance, and dharma, the Buddhist teaching of detachment and allowing events to unfold. For this to happen, it’s necessary to practice a “mental discipline” like meditation that allows one to approach each situation with no preconceptions.

Intelligent memory, which unites reason, logic, and analysis with creativity, intuition, and imagination as a single mode of thought, characterizes strategic intuition. While it increases with age and experience, education can make it grow even faster. By drawing from multiple sources and combining them in innovative ways, you too can develop strategic intuition to achieve your breakthroughs.

The Power of Strategic Intuition

This summary highlights the revolutionary careers of Bill Gates and Paul Allen of Microsoft and Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google, showing how their success is rooted in strategic intuition rather than following a preconceived plan. Gates and Allen’s initial failures led them to recognize the potential of the PC and its operating software, while Brin and Page’s accidental discovery of PageRank paved the way for the creation of Google. Strategic intuition involves connecting past elements in unforeseen ways, and its effectiveness is evident in business and art alike. These information age giants remind us that a willingness to change course and observe what’s happening around us is key to success.

Embracing Change for Social Impact

Nonprofits and social sector organizations should embrace a flexible approach towards change. Unlike in the business world, where changes in market or products are accepted as long as profit is made, a shift in direction by social sector agencies is seen as abandoning their mission. However, a historical review of events such as women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, and the success of Grameen Bank show that social change requires a flexible approach and a willingness to redefine goals. Leaders in the social sector should not be afraid to borrow methods from other fields and adjust their approaches accordingly.

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