The Entwinement of Technology & Strategy

I had a conversation a while back with our Director of Business Consulting – from which we coined a whole new phrase of managementspeak gobbledegook: “Strategically Bi-Directional View of Technology.” But we know what we mean.

Two tools, two paths, two choices

So there you are, looking at a screwdriver and a hammer. Which will you pick? Maybe someone’s told you one is outright better than the other. Maybe you know how to use one but not the other. Maybe one is cheaper.

There is plenty of overlap in what you can achieve with either. But there is much more difference, especially at the “strategic” level. Certainly you could use either to join two pieces of wood together. Maybe they’re “tactically” identical. But their differences shape what you can achieve, where you can go.

The hammer is fast. You could build a whole house with nails. The screwdriver is reversible. You can maintain something built with screws. The hammer is strong – you can shape or demolish. The screwdriver is precise – you can adjust and set.

There are also fringe functions these tools fulfill. The screwdriver can be a pry bar or maybe a chisel. The hammer can be a grappling hook or a weight for your tarp. Sooner or later, you’ll wind up using the fringe functions as well as the primary functions.

And all that adds up to big differences in what you’ll achieve with either tool. The technology will shape your strategic outcomes. You won’t build a house with a screwdriver. You won’t build cabinets with a hammer. That’s one direction of the “Strategically Bi-Directional View of Technology.”

What's not "Strategically Bi-Directional View of Technology"

If you’re approaching this carefully, you’ll know what your bigger picture is before you start looking at the tools. “I want a garden shed!” perhaps. You’ve got a goal which contributes to your strategy and now you’re selecting a technology which is best suited to achieving that goal. From your big garden shed picture, you’ve got lots of choices about tools. You don’t even need tools – you could just buy a pre-built shed. You could get someone to bring their tools and build the shed for you. You could specify a shed that just snaps together without tools. Or perhaps your vision of the shed nearly specifies the right tool. If it’s a rustic, permanent wooden shed, maybe the hammer’s the right option. If you’re going to want new trim on your decorative shed every year, maybe the screwdriver’s better. That’s the opposite direction of the “Strategically Bi-Directional View of Technology.”

But the Director and I know our new managementspeak holds deeper meaning than just the two directions.

The selection of the technology can be shaped by, and will shape desired outcomes. Yes, strategy can determine technology and technology can determine strategy. Our deeper meaning is to recognize and embrace this, not ignore it and become it’s slave.

Think ahead, plan and test

Select the hammer for your shed, and understand that by the time you’re finished that shed you can build a new roof, or even a house. Select the screwdriver for your shed, and understand that you’ll soon be able to make windows or furniture. Look at the directions you can go with your technologies, and build that back into your strategy. If you can’t build those outcomes into your strategy, perhaps this is the wrong tool, even if it would achieve a particular outcome. Run the paths forward and backwards and see how it optimizes.

Achieve a “Strategically Bi-Directional View of Technology.” Embrace their entwinement.