"We have a strategic plan. It's called doing things."
These are the words of Herb Kelleher, Co-founder, Chairman Emeritus, and former CEO of Southwest Airlines. His approach certainly worked out well for Southwest as the company now flies more than 100 million passengers per year and consistently turns a profit in a very tough industry.
Herb understood a critical element of business that is too often forgotten: the best strategy is informed by the doing. With disruptive change being the norm these days, it's especially important to not decouple action from strategy. If you spend six months working on a strategic plan, it's probably obsolete by the time you're ready to implement it.
We've found the best results come from strategy that is rooted in people's needs and informed by the testing of assumptions and prototypes along the way. In fact, we often advise clients to do a smaller project (advice that could be seen as contradictory to a consulting firm's sales strategy). Getting to a prototype quickly provides more learning opportunities and thus a better strategy. And sooner.
We recently ran a one-week Innovation Sprint to provide a window into our work (client work is confidential, of course). It's also a good example of how to get to an informed strategy quickly.