A lot is changing these days. And one of the more interesting change is an increased range of choices for individuals. Consider this broad trend
- Several hundred years ago, by and large, you were who you were born to be. There was not a lot of social mobility and your choices were restricted whether your were born as a peasant or a future king.
- In the 19th and 20th centuries, with institutionalization of education along and advances in science and technology, this changed. You could change your life by mastering a body of knowledge and getting a certification (like a doctor or lawyer). This opened up a lot of choices. And if you could apply your expertise at a high level, you were rewarded generously. You might say that in this time frame, you were what you knew.
- In the 21st century, knowledge is less a fixed thing that you can master, but an ongoing acquisition and dissemination process. Leaning will accelerate through better networking. This multiplies the choices that we have to make. Not just in terms of what we know, but who we are connected with. Because now, we are who we are connected with.
Hmmm … choice? More choice? Psychologists tell us that too much choice overwhelms us. We can’t deal with 50 brands of strawberry jam. We need a tool to prioritize - to focus. BTW, this is what good marketing does for us. Ok. So if we are going to success in the 21st century, we need to understand how that works. How to focus and make good choices. And we come to my main point - the skills to make better choices of this type are social and strategic.
Strategic? Right. We need to learn how to “Play to Win” in life. And that is why I am interested in Lafley and Martin’s new book on strategy “Play to Win“. Yes, it is a book about business strategy. But I would argue that the framework proposed goes beyond developing a business strategy. It applies to strategies for developing social exchanges as well. Here is an interview given by Lafley that discusses some of the core ideas.
One idea from the interview. Lafley was CEO of a global consumer products company - Proctor & Gamble. He is asked how global brands have evolved over the years. His answer - you need to learn how to keep the right balance of global and local. Understanding the difference between the two is a tool. Practicing how to use both develops a skill.