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Dave Snowden

… taken at the flood

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I spent the bulk of today running a session for the leadership team of a major Financial Services organisation. Sod’s law dictated a sunny day with waves crashing on the beach and clear sky above Table Mountain, while yesterday when advantage of those conditions could have been taken was overcast and grey. I managed a few snatched moments on the drive back to the Airport before flying up to Gauteng to run two one day workshops. However the workshop itself was interesting enough to compensate.

The opening session was on dominant predator theory and life cycle marketing. Many years ago I combined the idea of Crossing the Chasm from Moore with Handy’s use of S-Curves to create an overview of how new ideas enter the market. I’ll publish the latest version of that tomorrow as I can’t find a link to my previous discussion on this blog. The basic theme here is that the old paradigm of thinking has to reach its apogee before there is space for a new paradigm to emerge. But the very fact that the old paradigm is dominant makes it difficult for the new idea to emerge. Understanding this and how to sell on the other side of chasm was key to the work I did on the Genus Programme in Data Sciences (which was one of the reasons for the IBM acquisition) and also to current strategic work. More on that tomorrow.

For today the point I wanted to make references the quote from Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius CaesarCeasar that from which the title of this post is drawn.

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures

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Even a year ago it is unlikely I would have run this type of seminar, now it is happening more and more. The tide has, I think, turned for complexity. The weak signals for that came some years back and I started to change strategy on SenseMaker® as well as the methods to respond. Rather like the picture that opens this blog it is easier to get in just as the tide turns, you don’t want to be stranded on the beach, but you want to minimise the energy required to get into the blue ocean (sic). it is a delicate balancing act and it can go wrong – as it did big time for Brutus and Cassius. But sooner or later you have to call it.

More on this tomorrow in what will be a series of posts on rethinking strategy based on that workshop.

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