Strategic Reframing

Tuesday, December 14 2021

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 is different from conventional strategic planning because it presumes a degree of uncertainty about the future. The challenge is to build the ability to respond to change and opportunity into our planning rather than hanging onto strategies that can quickly become outdated.

Marshall Goldsmith, renowned business coach and author, reinforces the need to be adaptable in his best-seller, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. The book speaks about the importance of reframing our thinking; how we can become great leaders when we shift (reframe) “our focus from ourselves to others.”

Similarly, another famous book, Blue Ocean Strategy, shares stories about exceptional success that has been achieved when businesses lift themselves above their “red ocean” competitors. These competitors are characterized by commoditized approaches with little differentiation which are destined to compete on price. Exceptional successes 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. Simply, we are challenged to consider what we can let go of or minimize, 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, is credited with the quote “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. It is said that we learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. Perhaps a bit of Santayana’s wisdom is ingrained 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.