When we started to look at a holiday, I wanted to go to Canada and take the kids canoeing and bear-watching. There’s just enough time to get it done in two weeks. Of course, she fancied Costa Rica, and the kids put in a bid for Florida. But really, Orlando in hurricane season?
We knew we’d have to suck up the cost of going in school holidays, so the dates were set. And then we heard that our friends were going to Florida, so we settled on that. I guess the kids won that one.
Oh, and the Disney hotels are so close, but you know what you’re going to get because they’re pretty similar to Disneyland Paris, so we figured it would be cheaper for us all to stay in a house and get a pool too.
We thought about the time we’d lose on the parks, in the traffic, but decided it was worth it and we probably wouldn’t move for the second week. We’d have a pool for the kids right there.
We knew it was a gamble with the weather. I looked at the reports of the damage from Hurricane Irma last year. But prior to that, only two hurricanes have made landfall in Florida in the last 25 years. I took that as a reasonable gamble.
I couldn’t have guessed just how much fun the kids would have, but the cost of food took me by surprise. There’s nothing healthy to eat at the parks, so we had to buy a bag and carry lunch every day. But the second week has been perfect. To get away from theme parks and just sit, while the kids play in the water, has been total bliss.
Clues to the future and the shape of the market are everywhere. It just depends how (and if) you look for them. Read the holiday websites, and everything about Florida is great. Look at TripAdvisor, and maybe your plan needs to be thought through a bit more. Look at local planning notices, and you can see if the route between your house and the parks is disrupted with roadworks and what that does to travel time. Even the weather is relatively predictable from historical data.
Do you know what you’ll be doing six months from now? Probably not exactly. The signs are that it’ll be pretty much the same as you’re doing today, for most people. Unless you look at it differently.
Seeing it differently. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.
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After the Christmas holiday, in the northern hemisphere, we look at January and see a joyless month with little to get excited about – except maybe a shorter month of no alcohol and crowded gyms in February. Don’t tell me you don’t. Even if you have delayed it, you’re almost certainly planning something like a dry spell or a step-up in training. From the holidays to vacations. Six months of strategic planning.
The holiday trade knows this. TV schedules are full of programmes offering ideas for holidays and consumers start to think about winter sun, skiing, summer sun – anything that takes us away from the inevitability of January.
Here’s how a typical holiday planning process goes: we talk about when we want to go on vacation. We decide a theme and a time. We look for destinations. We agree where, when, who we go with, how we get there and what we’ll pay. We plan the clothes we’ll take, the route to the airport, the car park we’ll use and the shopping we’ll pick up in duty free. We now know if we need to dig out the snow boots from the garage or the snorkel. Down to the suitcase each of us will take, we know every detail of our plan.
Timing, budget, destination, team. Place, price, product, promotion.
This is strategic planning at the highest level. We do it every day: school selection, house location, car purchase, style of clothes we wear to project our personal image, how many children to have, dog or cat…
Every one of us is good at strategic planning because we are trained in it from the moment we are aware.
So, why is it so hard to plan a strategy at work?
Part of the answer could be that we don’t choose who we work with, and so our vision for the future is automatically a compromise. You can argue all you like that business strategy is all about what’s best for the business, but the fact is, people make a business, and everyone has an agenda.
The more people involved in making a decision, the more diluted the vision becomes. A decision-maker is needed. Often this is the CEO. Often this is the wrong person.
A CEO knows what she/he knows. They know what they see and what you tell them. They see it differently to you. Because you’re the innovator, you see things developing in a future that a CEO may not have begun to consider yet. In January, she/he is still looking at the year end, and will be until April. 30% of your year is already gone.
You’re the innovator. This makes it your job to present a totally compelling picture of your vision: justified and rationalised. If you get it right and they agree with you, everybody wins and you set the strategic direction you worked on. Get it wrong and you carry on doing more of what you did yesterday. Maybe not dangerous, but not a strategy either.
Future thinking. Future proofing. Innovation justified. It’s what we do.
Drop me a line to talk about how room44 can help with your innovation strategy.