When I launched my first startup — which in a lot of ways was also my first experience of running something as complex as a company, juggling multiple stakeholders (customers, service providers, partners, investors, and employees) and staking out the strategic path for the company, I often pulled long, focused strategy sessions where I took a specific problem and didn’t stop until I thought I found the solution.
More often than not, those solutions turned out to be not that great, short-sighted and needed significant revisions to work.
Over the years I learned that strategy takes time. It requires mulling things over in your head, checking your assumptions, again and again, getting an as diverse pool of insights as possible.
Today I regularly deploy a technique which is similar to making bread — putting the ingredients together, kneading it and then letting it rest for a while before returning to continue working on it. I often take as long as a week of not working at all on a strategy doc after I put down the first thoughts and elements. After returning to the document after that rest period I typically find elements missing, others being not developed enough or even completely off. The one thing which I always find is that by allowing me to step back from the problem I consistently come up with better solutions.
When it comes to strategy it is often necessary to take a step back to leap two steps forward.