Logan Dunn

What is my deliberate strategy and how can I remain open to emerging opportunities?


From http://www.web-books.com/eLibrary/ON/B0/B58/031MB58.html

From http://www.web-books.com/eLibrary/ON/B0/B58/031MB58.html


Deliberate vs. Emergent?

A deliberate strategy is more than a goal, dream, or hope for the future. It is a written down, deliberately focused on plan for the future. This is where you intended to go if all goes according to that plan. An emergent strategy, on the other hand, really represents the unanticipated problems and opportunities that happen as you are seeking to fulfill your deliberate strategy. Ultimately, those emerging problems and opportunities should merge with your deliberate strategy, resulting in what is actually realized in the end (see above).

In his book How Will You Measure Your Life?, Clayton Christensen uses the example of Honda Motorcycles to illustrate deliberate and emergent strategies. Honda came to the U.S. intending to compete with big bike brands such as Harley Davidson and Triumph. Due to equipment problems and high shipping costs, Honda was headed for disaster (its deliberate strategy was not working). During this difficult time, an employee took to the hills on a small off-road bike meant only for employees. Up there someone saw that employee and wanted one of those cool “dirt bikes.” From there Honda picked up traction in the off-road segment, and the rest is history. Honda adapted its strategy to the emergent opportunity creating a much stronger realized strategy in the end.

What is my strategy?

For the longest time I have believed more in allowing opportunities to come my way. Sure I have had plans before, usually fairly vague ones, but I always had at least some direction. In addition, my plans were almost  always for the next step of life and not for far into the future. That was the extent of my deliberate strategy.

I have historically leaned towards emergent, “whatever comes my way” opportunities. I link emergent opportunities to those plans that God puts into our paths. For that reason I have focused too much on saying, “I will just submit to the will of God and go where He wants me to go.” While that is a good thing, I am beginning to understand that Heavenly Father will provide the most guidance when we make our own decisions, plans, and strategies, and then seek His will for confirmation or changes.

From a scriptural standpoint I think about the story of Nephi in 1 Ne. chapters 3-4. Nephi went with his brothers to Jerusalem to retrieve the brass plates (a history of his fathers and commandments from God), but when they got there they found that Laban, who had control of the brass plates, would not give them up. Nephi and his brothers sat down and came up with a plan to pay Laban with the family riches to “buy” the plates off of him. That didn’t work either. With their plans exhausted, but attempted, the Lord then intervened and lead Nephi by the spirit to dispose of Laban and get the records. Another example is found in Ether chapters 2-3. In this case the Lord commanded the Brother of Jared to devise a strategy for lighting barges to cross the ocean. After the Brother of Jared came back with a plan, only then did the Lord confirm that plan and help them cross the ocean. There are many other examples from the scriptures of the Lord requiring his children to devise a strategy before help/guidance is given.

That is strong evidence to me that emerging opportunities given from above are meant to work with the deliberate strategies we already have in place.

So what is my deliberate strategy?

As I have been working on my personal strategy questions, I have found they are all closely tied together. Part of my deliberate strategy depends on my “personal diamond” and my “blue ocean” strategy. From the diamond I use my values, priorities, capabilities, and assets to identify activities that provide personal strengths and weaknesses. I can then leverage those strengths to create my deliberate strategy for the future. From my blue ocean strategy I can find a unique combination of skills that gives me a competitive advantage against my peers. I can leverage that to provide distinct benefits to an organization and security in my career.

My deliberate strategy is to go into a more traditional marking role for the first 5-10 years of my after-MBA career and then to transition back to something in tech (preferably product management). I plan to gain those traditional marketing skills from a career in the consumer packaged goods world, becoming a full-on brand manager in the first 5-10 years.

In 10-15 years, I would like to carry that traditional marketing prowess back to a tech company. I haven’t decided whether or not I want to go to a large company or a small one, but when I do get back to tech, I would like to be a product manager. If I work on a large product, I want to specifically be over the consumer marketing aspect of it, but if I am on a small or medium sized one, I want to be in charge of the entire product.

I am planning on mixing CPG with tech because I feel like there is a big lack of traditional marketing experience in the fast-paced tech world. It’s been a trend of some tech giants to hire CPG brand managers to do consumer marketing on its products. For example, Microsoft has hired two BYU alumni to do consumer marketing in its entertainment division. One is working on Xbox as a Sr. Product Manager and the other on Windows Phone. The PM on Windows Phone worked as a brand manager at P&G for many years and then went to Kellogg’s before choosing Microsoft. The other worked in consumer marketing at Johnson & Johnson before going over.

I see this path as a strategic move for me. It is next to impossible to go from a tech background over to CPG. One really needs to use grad school as a launchpad to get into the CPG world. It’s a lot easier to go from a CPG company over to a tech company as illustrated by the BYU alums at Microsoft. To stay sharp on my tech skills in the meantime, I am further expanding my Web development skills (part of my blue ocean strategy). This will help me to specifically target a Web-based company upon my return. To advise me on my course, I am currently being mentored by the Sr. Product Manager over Windows Phone, Tom Hafen.


From http://www.personalstrategy.org/

My deliberate strategy is not just career oriented. Part of it is to continue to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle; thus, I want to put priority on my Heavenly Father, my family, and my physical health.

To maintain balance in my life I plan on making sure I work hard and stay focused while I am at work. This is easier said than done, however. So much time is wasted while at work. For me, I have goals for the summer (and my work-life in general) to not waste time on Facebook or other internet sites, to pay attention during meetings, and to remove distractions/interruptions. This will help me to be more productive so I can keep work at the office and not bring it home with me, helping me to be focused on family during family time, church during church time, etc.

When it comes to physical health, always having a race or triathlon on the horizon helps me to dedicate the necessary time to reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Still a work in progress

My strategy is still a work in progress and I am in the process of refining it. I have found that when I plan for the future without the right motivation, I never reach my goals. Perhaps that is why Christensen taught first about motivation before he spoke about creating a strategy:

“It’s impossible to have a meaningful conversation about happiness without understanding what makes each of us tick. When we find ourselves stuck in unhappy careers— and even unhappy lives— it is often the result of a fundamental misunderstanding of what really motivates us.”

–Christensen, Clayton M.; Allworth, James; Dillon, Karen (2012-05-15). How Will You Measure Your Life? (p. 25). HarperBusiness. Kindle Edition.

I am in the process of understanding my motivators. I believe the biggest motivator for me will be my personal vision, an understanding of what my purpose is and what I am capable of. I am seeking a greater personal vision through revelation. The best part about having a solid personal vision, is that I won’t always have revelation at my fingertips, but if I can solidify my vision through revelation, it can stand as an unmovable guide. Christensen spent years trying to understanding his purpose in life. What a driver that must be! I have a general understanding of my purpose, but I feel like I need to get a better vision of that purpose.

“Purpose [is] the critical ingredient that [guides us] in the application of the theory.”

–Christensen, Clayton M.; Allworth, James; Dillon, Karen (2012-05-15). How Will You Measure Your Life? (p. 195). HarperBusiness. Kindle Edition.


My deliberate strategy is already shifting with an emerging opportunity at 3M. I will be doing my summer internship there. I know I will have at least one project in the consumer product world, but it will not be like a full-on CPG internship. This could be a great opportunity to tweak my deliberate strategy into sometime better suited to my skills and abilities.

It is important to remain open to emerging opportunities. Here are some ways that I can keep myself open to them:

  • HAVE A DELIBERATE STRATEGY (This will facilitate being open to emergent strategies that my Heavenly Father has for me)
  • Be more diverse (When I am in “the norm” I may not have many new, emerging opportunities. By putting myself in diverse situations I can expose myself to a larger number of opportunities.)
  • Be a life-long networker (Keeping a large pool of contacts will open the gate to new, and often different-than-I-am-used-to, opportunities)
  • Be a life-long learner (Continuous learning will allow me to develop new skills and find new interests in life)