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Unlearning the Past, Jettison Excess Baggage Published: Tuesday, January 20, 1998 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

Last week we had an interesting debate and discussion at the Puerto Rico 2000 annual strategic retreat. We shared many dialectics, perspectives and approaches on how a country`s competitiveness strategy - the framework of ideas it uses to make its policies explicit and its institutions knowledge driven and legitimate - shapes the manner in which sectors and enterprises perform and achieve set of results. If this is not properly, it can blind organizations and their managers to problems and challenges they cannot avoid, but if properly understood it can alert them in their contribution of achieving the competitiveness of society. The competitiveness of society refers to its capacity to produce, distribute, and service goods in the international economy in competition with goods and services produced in other countries, and to do so in a way that earns a rising standard of quality of life. In this sense, and as it has been clearly stated by many profound scholars and researchers, it is not enough to imagine the future, we also have to build it. In order to build the future of opportunities which we have imagined, we need to develop capacity for experimentation, application and execution. That is why, we sometime talk about the architecture of complexity and the future. The formula is having a dream and daring to experiment with reality. Strategic architecture is the link between the future and present reality. It relates to the courage of leaders, executives, managers, workers and entrepreneurs to become historians of the future. It is the business of crafting what we should be doing now (investment, commerce, infrastructure, technology, design, customers, markets, etc.) in order to create a winning position for the society and its sectors in a new opportunity domain or arena.

Strategic architecture is not a detailed plan. It is an immodest and broad agenda for deploying new functionalities, acquiring new knowledge sets, leveraging existing competencies and redesigning and reconfiguring the social system`s interfaces. It is about opportunity share rather than market share. There is no sense in talking about market share in markets which don`t exist. The competitive task is about creating new opportunity arenas (financial, communication services, genetically engineered drugs and information systems) and not about strictly keeping score of the existing ones. Some core questions for contributing to the competitiveness of the society are: What share of future opportunities can we capture as a key component of our strategic architecture? And which new knowledge sets and competencies we have to develop in order to capitalize on the share of those future opportunities? Let us close with a reverent-irreverence. The quest for the future is about unlearning and forgetting the past. It is about disposing excess baggage.

 


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