October 2013

Seeing the Path Forward and Sticking to it

by Sarah Thrift on October 12, 2013

path forward

What makes someone good at both developing and delivering a strategy?

In my observations of colleagues and clients, three traits stand out:

  1. The ability to see and hold the path forward: this is perhaps the most important of all traits. It’s the ability to see where you need to get to, a feeling for the destination even if its details are scarce. In terms of strategy, it means keeping going until the real insights are revealed and not settling too fast for the familiar or comfortable. This also means in times of being in the midst of the unknown, you can be there and stay open – and hold the path forward. You can recognize that this is a phase – and a very necessary one – to make progress on the path.

  2. The discernment to know what to be doing when: this is about judgment and a sense of timing. Someone who has discernment when it’s appropriate to keep expanding the debate, to be widening possibilities – and who also knows when enough is enough, when it’s time to dig in on the ideas themselves or when it’s time to make choices and take some forward and others not (which, if the work has been done well, often fall out themselves quite naturally).

  3. The drive, persistence and confidence to keep going despite obstacles and kinks along the way: Once you can see the path, you need the tenacity to keep going. To not get side-tracked – or if you do, to quickly get back on track. To keep the destination in mind despite pulls and temptations – and potentially easier paths – in other directions.

Simply put, developing and successfully executing a strategy requires vision, drive and discernment.