Strategic Reframing

Sunday, February 12 2023

There is plenty of evidence to support the value of reframing in business. The Oxford Strategic Planning Approach (OSPA), developed at Oxford University, suggests that strategic reframing differs from traditional strategic planning. It presumes a degree of uncertainty about the future. Responding to change and opportunity in our planning is preferable. Hanging onto strategies that can quickly become outdated is less desirable.

Strategic Reframing Defined

Marshall Goldsmith, a famous business coach and author, reinforces the need to be adaptable. In his best-seller, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, he writes about the importance of reframing our thinking. How we can become great leaders when we shift (reframe) “our focus from ourselves to others.”

The book Blue Ocean Strategy shares stories about success from rising above their “red ocean” competitors. These competitors use commoditized approaches with little differentiation, forced to compete on price. Companies reimagined themselves by focusing on innovation, achieving unique offerings and higher margins. Think Yellow Tail Winery or Cirque du Soleil. Blue Ocean Strategy offers a planning tool called the eliminate/reduce/raise/create grid. We must consider what we can let go of or reduce, so we can double down in other areas, and best of all, free ourselves to discover where we can innovate to deliver value in ways we may have never considered.

George Santayana, an American philosopher, said “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We need to keep an eye on our past mistakes, learn from them, and then reframe our plans to avoid the same missteps. We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. Perhaps a bit of Santayana’s wisdom is in us already, but the ultimate outcome depends on how well we capitalize on such lessons and resolve to reframe our approach to escape red ocean behaviour.

Being brave enough to let go of past habits and behaviours is as much an opportunity for strategic growth as it is for individual development. But we don’t simply let go of something in order to embrace nothing. We benefit from taking the time to reframe and reimagine our destiny – to look before we leap.