Deliberate or Emergent Strategies

January 11, 2019 Scott Miller


In their recent book Prosperity Paradox, Clayton Christensen and his co-authors Karen Dillon and Efosa Ojomo revisit a profound concept: Deliberate or Emergent Strategies.

Rarely do organizations succeed with the original (deliberate) strategy they set out with—less than 7% of the time. In fact, 93% of companies that achieve ultimate success actually abandon their original strategies and set forth with an entirely different strategy. It was through nimbleness, insight, and humility that the leaders continually tweaked, innovated, and were willing to admit mistakes that allowed them to find success in a different direction.

I don’t mean to trivialize the likely harrowing and relentless efforts these leaders experienced to finally achieve success, but the lesson around allowing yourself to fail and discover success in another area also has great personal application for all of us.

Think about your own financial planning, entrepreneurial endeavors, your career. Even your love life, raising kids. Perhaps you’re being too deliberate. Too focused on what you’re certain will work. Apparently there’s a 7% likelihood that you’re on the right track, if indeed you’re on the exact same track you started with.

Allow some uncertainty in life. More flexibility. It’s easier written than done I know. I have many strategies I’m pursuing in my own career, and six months into some of them, I can tell what’s going to make them successful not only doesn’t look like my original vision, but something I couldn’t even envision.

Be open to the thought that sometimes a disappointment becomes an appointment.


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About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott J. Miller is Executive Vice President of Business Development and Chief Marketing Officer for FranklinCovey. Scott has been with the company for 20 years, and previously served as Vice President of Business Development and Marketing. His role as EVP and Chief Marketing Officer caps 12 years on the front line, working with thousands of client facilitators across many markets and countries.

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