Strategy-testing is a time-honored practice, and some traditional tests of strategy are well known, for instance, those offered by Michael Porter and McKinsey consulting (see www.emergent-approach/supplement/Chapter 9).

Traditional tests, however, are not actually tests of strategy; they are tests of entire frameworks. And many traditional tests are of little use because they require so much prediction.

For example, McKinsey’s first test is, “Will your strategy beat the market?” Well, if you know the answer to this question, why on earth would you need to do any thinking at all? Just beat the market and get rich and famous. Other tests like, “Does your strategy balance commitment and flexibility?” and “Is there a conviction to act on your strategy?” are only marginally better. Such questions may lead to feel-good answers and reduce leadership anxiety, but they are not very useful for creating a strategy.

The Five Disqualifiers are a new approach to strategy testing. They work by revealing whether a prospective strategy statement meets the requirements of a solution to the killer problems of change and innovation.

Instead of asking obvious questions that seek affirmative answers about the entire framework, the Disqualifiers ask the following:

  1. Is the opposite of the statement absurd?
  2. Does the statement include numbers?
  3. Is the statement a duplicate of the parent?
  4. Does the statement exclude anything or anyone?
  5. Is the statement a list?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then the statement is most likely not a strategy, but a goal, plan, or no more than a cliché or truism instead.

Unlike traditional tests, a “yes” answer reveals a non-strategy, hence the name Disqualifiers. Once internalized, the Disqualifiers are a powerful—and fun!—adaptive tool because they destroy unfit strategy ideas (or variations), allowing true strategies that pass the tests to emerge and evolve further.

Strategy Test Of The Month

Test Your Understanding Of Strategy

Introduction to Strategy-Testing

Strategy-testing is a time-honored practice, and some traditional tests of strategy are well known, for instance, those offered by Michael Porter and McKinsey consulting (see www.emergent-approach/supplement/Chapter 9).

Traditional tests, however, are not actually tests of strategy; they are tests of entire frameworks. And many traditional tests are of little use because they require so much prediction.

For example, McKinsey’s first test is, “Will your strategy beat the market?” Well, if you know the answer to this question, why on earth would you need to do any thinking at all? Just beat the market and get rich and famous. Other tests like, “Does your strategy balance commitment and flexibility?” and “Is there a conviction to act on your strategy?” are only marginally better. Such questions may lead to feel-good answers and reduce leadership anxiety, but they are not very useful for creating a strategy.

The Five Disqualifiers are a new approach to strategy testing. They work by revealing whether a prospective strategy statement meets the requirements of a solution to the killer problems of change and innovation.

Instead of asking obvious questions that seek affirmative answers about the entire framework, the Disqualifiers ask the following:

  1. Is the opposite of the statement absurd?
  2. Does the statement include numbers?
  3. Is the statement a duplicate of the parent?
  4. Does the statement exclude anything or anyone?
  5. Is the statement a list?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then the statement is most likely not a strategy, but a goal, plan, or no more than a cliché or truism instead.

Unlike traditional tests, a “yes” answer reveals a non-strategy, hence the name Disqualifiers. Once internalized, the Disqualifiers are a powerful—and fun!—adaptive tool because they destroy unfit strategy ideas (or variations), allowing true strategies that pass the tests to emerge and evolve further.