Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Strategic Planning – the infinite loop

Yesterday, I had a strategic planning session with a fellow speaker, who mentioned to me that her strategy is to have everything she does be part of an “infinite loop”. This picqued my curiosity, so I asked her about what this meant. In her view, this meant that every new client she takes has to help her learn things that will help her get the client after. In other words, she intentionally seeks business where the her learning helps her get more of the same type of business.

In systems thinking, we would refer to this as a “recursive process” – that is, the output of the process ultimately becomes input to the process. Some engineers might recognize this as a “feedback loop”. In many cases (for example, in software), we don’t like to see feedback loops – but in business strategy, it’s a great idea. Why? Because the “problem” with feedback loops is that whatever is feeding back gets bigger and bigger with each cycle through the loop. In an audio system, this leads to that horrible screeching we hear when a microphone gets too close to a speaker…but in business, this effect can happen to beneficial results (such as learning or getting more business).

Does your business have a feedback loop? How do you maintain it? Good strategic planning should guide you towards this type of competitive advantage.

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