Taking yet another page out of Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Solution, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about deliberate vs. emergent strategies and their role in launching a new initiative.

Christensen describes a deliberate strategy as a course of action that you map out and execute based on your ingoing assumptions.  It’s your initial game plan.  The product of many long hours of strategic planning, your deliberate strategies are what you write in your business plan and present as your approach to win the market.

An emergent strategy is what you find after your deliberate strategy fails: a different course of action that only presents itself after you get started and learn more about the market.  It’s usually something that you never even considered in the deliberate strategy planning process.  You could only find it after the market had revealed itself.

You can spend lots of time researching, planning, and considering every angle when creating your deliberate strategy, but you can’t change the statistics:

90% of deliberate strategies fail.

The key to success in any new initiative is not to create better deliberate strategies. Rather, it’s to identify the emergent strategies as quickly as possible.

Deliberate and Emergent Strategies
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