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Sell your strategy!

Mapping your environment and defining your strategy is just the beginning. Those exercises alone can help you understand your environment better, but it does not mean you will be able to act on those.

Simon described the following situation in his book:

The problem was me. I had massively underestimated the intentions of the parent company. I should have known better given that I had spent over three years (2002–2005) trying to persuade the parent company that 3D printing would have a big future or my more recent attempts that mobile phones would dominate the camera market. The parent company had become pre-occupied with SED televisions and focusing on its core market (cameras and printers). Despite the potential that I saw, we were becoming less core to them and they had already begun removing R&D efforts in a focus on efficiency. They had brought in an outside consultancy to look at our platform and concluded that utility computing wasn’t the future and the potential for cloud computing (as it became known) was unrealistic. Remember, this was 2006. Amazon had barely launched. Even in 2009, big name consultancies were still telling companies that public cloud wasn’t the future or at least was a long way away.

This passage highlights that the strategy needs to recognise at least of the types of the landscape & climate:

  • the external part focused on having the biggest impact and delivering the best combination of customer impact and shareholder revenue

  • the internal part focused on the needs of less visible stakeholders - employees, managers and executives.

People tend to look at that internal part with a rather negative attitude. They call it "corporate politics" and try to stay away from it.


But any strategy that does not recognise employees internal situation is not really grounded in reality.


Some symptoms of such wishful thinking are clearly visible. 


Executives say "we have a great strategy, but our people can't execute it", while regular employees are less subtle:"a bunch of self-centred idiots manages us".

When you learn Wardley Mapping, you may build better situational awareness than your boss has and better one than anyone in your time. Unfortunately, you are doomed unless you know how to sell your strategy to other people and whether you can sell it in the first place. Nobody will act on your thinking.

Here is a non-complete list of factors that you should consider when talking to others about your strategy:

The Right Mental State
Every person has their own set of priorities, and those priorities fluctuate over time. There is no value in talking about a strategy to a person who is not interested in it because they have other priorities. So if you want to socialise your thinking, you need to not only know your audience priorities but also be able to connect strategic thinking to their priorities.
This is the most valuable sales skill you can acquire.


Distinctiveness and proof of work
Those are the two points that come for free with Wardley Mapping. Maps are still novel enough to grab the attention. They also not only store your plans, but also represent your knowledge about a given problem. Therefore, if you need a reputational boost, start with a complicated map and reduce it step by step to demonstrate that you know what you know. It's a theater :).

Addressing hidden needs
You will get the attention and resources when your strategy is sound, helps the company and helps the person you are talking to in satisfying their selfish desires. Does your boss want a promotion? Your strategy must imply that. Do you peers dream of high bonuses - think about it before you use the word 'outsource'.

As you can see, there is a lot of non-mapping skills required to make your organisation accept the strategy, or, at least, not reject it before learning more.

What is your approach to selling your strategy? Let me know via Twitter.

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