I spend the better part of my work life framing out strategies, too, trying to provide a guiding and overarching path and plan for doing things. But aside from all of that, there *has* to be room for the unpredictable. The unexpected. The unforeseen.
Human connections – if you really want them as an individual or a business – are not forged on a map or outlined within a framework. Inspiration doesn’t strike within the bounds of the carefully tabbed spreadsheet you created. People come and go, and they evolve, too. Some things change underneath your feet. Some things don’t change when you expected them to. You have to be able to not only adapt, but sometimes just chuck the playbook altogether and go with the flow.
The magic spark of true innovation, friendships of affinity, emotional attachments to things or people are knitted through thousands of moments captured as they happen, when they happen, sometimes nowhere near the script we’ve written.
But too often, we try to harness spontaneous by taking a fleeting, special moment and “scaling” it, repeating it, or jamming it into our slide deck that outlines everything we’re going to do for the year and making it into a “strategy”. And therein lies our eventual downfall.
The intangible fabric of humanity is not made of formulas, but the everyday mingled with the absolutely un-scriptable. Happy, fun, and interesting are not things you effectively engineer. You can recognize it, you can run with it in the moment, but you can’t plan for it. You have to embrace it when. And you need to let the people around you – including your clients, your employees, your teams – do exactly the same thing.
We routinely kill all of that in our work. Stifle it. Policy the crap out of it. And yes, we “strategize”, because that’s what we’re supposed to do in order to prove that we do indeed have a plan. Somewhere along the way, we learned that if it isn’t deliberate, it has no value.
But if you have any interest at all in truly being “human”, “authentic”, or any of the other words we’ve made so empty through our manipulations? Be willing to say to hell with strategy, set aside your carefully plotted binder with the color-coded tabs, and recognize the value of being present in a moment that you didn’t exactly plan for.
I promise it won’t kill you to have a conversation that doesn’t have a discernible ROI. (In fact, it might even encourage someone to have a conversation back.) Let inspiration strike. Consider an idea that’s out of left field. Laugh in the middle of a meeting. Share a cat video. Jump in a puddle. Write something simply because it moves you. Wipe off the whiteboard and scribble.
Most of all, quit planning everything. Life – and business – often happen in between the lines.