I think I'm obsessed with the searching-planning continuum for project implementation and intelligence. I was initially introduced to the thinking by the writings of economist Williiam Easterly and his research on the international poverty war. Easterly contrasts the heavy, top-down blueprint problem-solving approach of Planners unfavorably with the lightweight, bottom-up discovery of Searchers. Planners think they can “strategize”to solutions for knotty problems; Searchers know they cannot – and accordingly look for smaller intermediate “victories”, hoping to learn/adapt as they go. Though Easterly seems to side with Searchers, and I consider myself more a Searcher than Planner, I'd prefer a compromise that incorporates the strengths of both approaches.

This searching-planning compromise lens now colors my assessment of business strategy and intelligence. Two relatively recent articles, one from the Harvard Business Review and a second from the MIT Sloan Management Review, helped me understand this compromise. The HBR article, The Innovator's DNA, is nominally a case control analysis examining innovating CEO's like Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos to determine what attributes differentiate them from non-innovators. I'm generally not a big fan of this type of investigation, but the article does a good job identifying discovery skills that I believe are solid foundations for searching and BI.

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