Formerly effective strategies

When we're formulating new strategies, our minds are full of questions. We're exploring different possibilities and experimenting to uncover an approach that works. We're comparing different strategies to discern which is more effective at realizing desired outcomes at the least cost. We're trusting a process that leads to an unknown outcome, rather than following a recipe to replicate results. We're taking the time to get it right, rather than jumping to premature conclusions.

This pursuit of effective strategies occurs with the most mundane and the most global issues. We can be puzzling how best to prevent a drain from clogging at home or pondering how to reduce atmospheric carbon levels around the globe. Bigger scales may take more time, expertise and exploration than smaller, but the state of mind is the same.

Once we hit upon an effective strategy, our minds typically think "enough of that!". Our minds are eager to switch back to tactical thinking. It seems like it's time to stop asking so many questions, exploring so many possibilities and conducting so many experiments. We want to simply know what to do and get it done without hesitation.

At this point, our effective strategy is about to become institutionalized. It may become a simple habit or routine. It may get formalized in policy manuals or procedural requirements. It will likely become reinforced by evaluation and reward schema which incentivize sticking with the strategy. It may even become immortalized in a cultural narrative or taboo which enforces conformity with social pressures. From now on, we can only do what's been done in the past, whether or not it remains effective. It's been "set in stone" and not easily chiseled away.

There's no way out of this pitfall with recognizing what kind of thinking is missing. Without knowing the difference between strategic and tactical thinking, there's no way to formulate a new effective strategy. There's only too much talking about explicit change, possibilities and improvements, while the formerly effective strategy persists ad infinitum.

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