Do you have an oxygen strategy?

When someone does something awesome we try to understand how they did it. It might be a musician killing it in front of an audience or a business person who has built something amazing. We notice them using tools to do this and we assume that the tools were a big part of the success story. We see their behaviour and think that we could achieve great things if we acted in the same way.

And that’s just wrong. You can’t achieve greatness until you’ve discovered your reason for being.

I see this with big businesses that suddenly find themselves in a world where everything seems to have changed. They see digital technology disrupting industries and assume that it’s the technology that did it. The logical conclusion is that they need to use digital technology too— and that’s usually when they ask for help. In life, you get what you ask for.

Startups often make the same mistake without consultants helping them head down the wrong street. They fixate on new technology and assume that this is what will make their company great.

The problem is that these intuitive assumptions miss the point. The challenge is not about developing a strategy to do the same things that successful people do. It goes deeper than that.

This brings us to the question — do you have an oxygen strategy?

Breathing oxygen is just part of being human. You don’t need a strategy for it. Your body will breathe oxygen just fine without you needing to think about it. If you can’t breathe oxygen, however, you’ll die.

Digital technology is just part of how the world works now and awesome tools are easy to get. You don’t need a strategy for them — just assume they will be there when required.

The key isn’t technology, it’s anthropology. What is happening in society and culture and how can you make it better? What’s the big picture and can you be part of it? Is there a problem that you can solve or something good that you can improve? I already know that you’re awesome, but you need to act if you’re going to prove it to everyone else. Finding the answers can be difficult, but everything depends on your doing so.

Once you’ve figured all that out, just breathe. The oxygen will be there.

Also posted on Medium

I'm a writer and broadcaster who also designs apps and strategies for disruptive startups in the financial world. Find out more on my about page.