brainroads-toward-tomorrows mental patterns


pyramid to dna


Edward de Bono

From Six Value Medals

Strategy And Plans

You need to design a strategy and then decide whether to use it and when to use it.

Strategy which is not value driven is not a strategy at all.

  • What are we seeking to achieve?
  • What must we try to avoid?
  • How can the strategy be implemented?
  • What are the values involved in the implementation?

These values apply equally to business strategies and personal life plans.

From How To Have A Beautiful Mind

The Mirror Strategy

A very well-known management consulting firm is said to use the 'mirror strategy'. The consultants are called in by senior management of a business because of some problem or need to reorganise. The consultants come in and move around the organisation, listening very carefully to what is being said. From what they have heard they put together a report which is then presented to senior management.

Because the consultants are charging a high fee, senior managers now read the report and listen to what is being said. In the past they may not have listened to what people in their own organisation were saying.

This type of consultancy serves a very useful role by reflecting back, as a mirror, what is really already present. It also has to be said that because the ideas pass through the consultants they are in a sense 'validated' by the experienced judgement of the consultants.

In the same way it is possible to listen to what a lot of different people say on a subject and then to put this together to form your own knowledge base, which you are then free to use.

Repeating to one person what you have recently heard from another is perfectly valid. The danger is that if the first person has got it wrong, so too will you.

You may, of course, add your own interpretation or slant to knowledge you have picked up from others. This is exactly what the consultants were paid for doing.

If you have heard people discussing a particular movie, you can repeat the comments even if you have never seen the movie. You might choose to indicate that these were, indeed, remarks you had heard.

From de Bono's Thinking Course

Strategy and Tactics

At several points in this book I have mentioned the L-Game which I once designed as the "simplest possible real game." New players find it hard to develop an effective strategy precisely because the game seems so simple. As a broad strategy they might offer the following:

  • break up the empty spaces
  • stay close to the opponent's L-piece
  • use the neutral pieces to block rows and columns
  • dominate the center
  • keep out of the corners
  • force the opponent to the edge

All these are general guidelines or broad strategy. Within that broad strategy there are moment-to-moment moves that have to be made. These are the tactics.

A computer company might have the broad strategy of "riding on the coat-tails of IBM." Within this broad strategy there are many tactical decisions that have to be made: to avoid directly competitive products; to make sensitive pricing decisions; to anticipate IBM policy. Another computer company might adopt the strategy of catering to customers who needed the utmost reliability in their computers rather than the most advanced system. Yet another company might direct its attention to the small business user. This company might use the tactic of making personal computers in order to get people used to its products and then offering rather more powerful machines. In this case it may be difficult to decide whether this is really a tactic or a "sub-strategy." The important point is that the strategy is the overall intention and way of behaving which itself guides the moment-to-moment movement or tactics.

Corporate strategy has recently become a much more fashionable subject. This is because in a competitive world it is no longer enough to rely on a dominating market position—or just quick reactive behavior to whatever a competitor has done.

From Teach Yourself To Think


A strategy is not as detailed as a plan. It is more a set of guidelines. Later these will need to be put into a plan. The point is that the guidelines remain but the plans may vary with the situation. The way you implement a strategy may vary while the strategy remains constant.

Sam Walton's strategy was to take organized shopping to smaller towns where there was little competition. As a result he built up the largest retail chain in the USA and became one of the richest Americans.

A politician might have a strategy of always being helpful and offering to do the things which no one else wanted to do.

In putting together a strategy there is consideration of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and what the world is going to be like.

A big corporation might say that it is too difficult to foresee the future therefore the strategy is to do nothing but wait for things to emerge and then to be very quick in moving with the trends.

  • 'What is our strategy for winning this game?'
  • 'We need a strategy for entering this new market.'
  • 'Could you spell out the strategy we are following?'
  • 'This election needs a definite strategy.'
  • 'We should sell off the operations that require a lot of attention but have no future.'
  • 'What is your strategy for finding a job?'

Peter Drucker

In Innovation and Entrepreneurship he wrote about strategies that introduce a thing: Firstest with the mostest; Hit em where they ain't; etc. and strategies that are the innovation: utility; value; customer reality; and pricing (not price).

From The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Nonprofit Organization

Identify Meaningful Results

You shouldn't even try to measure results the way a business does. However, some things you can and should quantify. If you run a public library, you must know how many library cards you issue, how many people come in, how many children visit the story hour. Those are quantitative, and they are important. But first you have to define those children that you need to attract. And so you have to make a judgment. You need to talk to those who are not coming in and ask why, and to those who are coming in and ask why. So qualitative feedback is important, as well.

How, for instance, in a mental health clinic, can you judge the effectiveness of a strategy, or whether you're doing better this year than last? How can you define what "better" means? I know one major mental health clinic that does a tremendous job in an area in which results are terribly hard to achieve-paranoia cases. The director told me, "We have a simple goal. We don't know how to cure paranoia. We don't understand it at all. But there is the possibility of helping people who are sick with paranoia to realize that they are sick. And that is a tremendous step forward. Because then they know that they are sick, not that the world is sick. They are not cured, but they function." Again, that is a qualitative goal. So you can also set goals that are not measurable quantitatively, but that can be appraised and can be judged.

You have to ask, "What are the specific results I want?" Whether it's for a church, or a hospital, or a YWCA, or a public library, your strategy will have the same structure. Your goal must fit your mission, but it also has to fit the environment in which you work.

In a nutshell, strategy formulation is an exercise in setting goals for the organization and developing a model of how achieving the goals would advance the strategic purpose of the organization.

A plan, by contrast, is the action agenda that is aimed at reaching the goal. The biggest mistake organizations make about a "plan" is to cast it in stone as a tactical document, much like a construction drawing with all details filled in for perfect implementation. A business plan is quite different. It is an execution process that feeds back to better strategy making and goal setting. Managers shape it, guide it, adapt it, and learn from it.

Scan the environment. Through reading, surveys, interviews, and so on, we identify the major trends likely to affect the organization. The essence of strategy is to define the implications of those trends. Sometimes we can catch a straw in the wind and have a responsive program or project ready as the trend emerges—not after. This assessment of emerging trends and implications, supplemented by internal data, provides essential background for planning change—and offers a better basis for action than our own preconceptions. Flying on assumptions can be fatal.

Michael E. Porter

wrote about two generic strategies: low cost and differentiation.

List of topics in this Folder


“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker

The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context




These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving toward unimagined futures.

It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then figure out a coping plan for what you’ve rejected.

Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise. A site exploration starting point



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