Sound Strategy: Choice, not change, dictates what lies next

Sound Strategy: Choice, not change, dictates what lies next

May 5th, 2023

Around virtually every seeming corner in our lives at the moment lies some kind of dramatic evolution; whether it’s banking headlines, housing developments, or simply the pace of change, we are left to wonder with little confidence what lies around the next corner.

As Elie Wiesel is famous for pointing out, it isn’t the change that matters most – it’s our human choice in how we react to it that is, in the end, deterministic.

Few changes sweeping the country at the moment right now are more dramatic than the rapid advances in the artificial intelligence field.

In the past few months alone, the capabilities of machine intelligence have stunned, excited, and worried many of those at the core of its development. We are left, in many cases, with a question: What will be the balance in the future between ourselves and our technology?

In short, as technology advances we’ll gradually find ourselves losing a sense of direct control over technological evolution although we hope to retain human influence in its outcome.

That’s a good analogy for so many things in life at the moment; management, politics, and the very human condition seem to suggest a loss of direct control of events but the requirement and imperative to retain some kind of influence in our course.

While that’s a national and even global phenomenon, it’s also very much a regional one.

Strategy suggests that while our region struggles with things like housing, political representation (for example, one of our state senate districts covering the Greater Outer Banks has ten counties, while Wake County has six state senators), and labor availability, we are left to wonder what the best ways to influence outcomes are as we, on occasion, lose direct control over a situation.

As we’ve seen in a host of housing debates, there is a collision between zoning, private ownership rights, and a vocal sense of community identity. Zoning and private ownership represent control while a community identity suggests influence.

As we’re learning, there are both good and bad ways to influence with an eye toward the future. In other words, how that very real influence is projected becomes the anecdotal efficacy around concerns about direct control.

As a historical analogy, Winston Churchill in a famous episode flew to France during the darkest days of the German blitzkrieg to take a measure of weakening French resistance.

France’s leaders at the time pleaded with Churchill for more resources as the stunning new war entered what they thought was a decisive phase. After a long pause, Churchill countered that the decisive phase was yet to come.

Andrew Roberts, a noted Churchill biographer, wonderfully points out that Churchill looked not to the present to determine a decisive moment — he looked to the future (even, as Roberts suggests, to us). That ability was among his genius.

And so it is with us today as we seek to balance control with influence against the fullness of time.

Strategy suggests a deliberate effort around constructive, civil, and engaged influence recognizing the limits of control that define so much of the modern world.

If we are to squander the better angels of our nature in a lack of influence, we are then set to simply lose control.

If we, on the other hand, become masters of influence through our deliberate choices, then as Wiesel suggests the future will remain bright.

In the end, it’s not the change that dictates strategy – it’s the choice.

“Sound Strategy”, a weekly commentary from our publisher Clark Twiddy, features issues, ideas and information focused on our mission statement of “Covering the Business News of the Greater Outer Banks”.

Share this Article

Subscribe for Daily Updates

Invalid email address
Send this to a friend