We must choose actions that allow us to respond to unforeseen events by Gary Gagliardi

All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.” Bruce Lee

Adaptability is not imitation. It means power of resistance and assimilation.”  Mahatma Gandhi

"Make war without a standard approach. Water has no consistent shape." Sun Tzu's The Art of War, 6:8:8-9

When we choose to act on an opportunity, we must expect unforeseen events. The means we must choose actions that we can easily adapt to circumstances.  Adaptability means the ability to move in a new direction at any time.  Success in moving to new positions requires both our commitment to the goal and flexibility as to our methods.  Our goal of exploring an opportunity remains the same, but we want to be free to choose a different path of exploration at any time.

When we choose a specific opportunity, we narrow our focus. As we decision on a specific move, we narrow our focus further. The narrower our focus, the more concentrated our effort and the more likely our success. However, while we narrow our focus on the act at hand, we must choose actions that leave us the most flexibility to adapt to the situation that we find and the events we encounter.

In S-BOK 6.1, we use the analogy of adapting to road traffic to explain this concept. Our goal of going to the store doesn't change when we encounter traffic on a given route, but if we are in a car, we are free to adapt our route to the events we encounter.  Most people prefer cars to rapid transit because cars offer much more flexibility in terms of adapting to traffic conditions.

In a similar way, when choosing any action, we must choose the action that gives us the greatest possible flexibility to adapt to future, unforeseen events.We choose a car to navigate traffic because, if we were on a train or a bus, we could not change our direction at a moment's notice.

This is necessary because exploring an opportunity is an pure act of discovery. We have to admit to ourselves that we do not know what we will find. We do not know what will happen. The future is the undiscovered country, and we must be free to make future decisions based on what we discover.

A journey of a thousand miles always starts with a single step, but there is an inherent difference between traveling a well-mapped route and exploring unknown territory. This again is the difference between strategy and planning.  The well-mapped route moves us predictably through controlled area of production. Exploration takes us into the uncontrolled arenas of competition.

Every step forward into an opening is an experiment. The goal of the experiment is discover the truth of our situation. That truth almost always lies outside of our expectations and assumptions.  This is the fun and excitement and terror of strategy. When we explore high-probability opportunities, we must find success eventually, but we any given step may lead to a dead-end. We commit ourself to taking the next step, but the steps after that must be determined by conditions not assumptions, events not expectations.

Choosing an action in a competitive environment is not that same making a pre-determined plan. It is picking a direction and a approach. Our choices are based on what we think can happen, but with the knowledge that we cannot know what will happen. We must open ourselves to the range of events that are possible in an unknown environment.

People think that the more detailed their plan, the safer a new venture is. The opposite is true. This is where the danger lies, as we explain in S-BOK 5.2.2.