leadership strategy Mar 01, 2021

The positive market response to Apple's new Silicon computers highlights the power of parallel processing. Apple achieved this with a reduced instruction set computer (RISC) design. RISC microprocessors are not new. In the late 1980s, as a Systems Engineer at Hewlett Packard, I compiled and executed code on a quarter-of-a-million-dollar Unix workstation that housed the world's first and fastest parallel reduced instruction set microprocessor (PRISM). Apple's M1 microprocessor is 10,000x faster than the first PRISM microprocessor and sells for just eight hundred dollars!

RISC computing breaks down complex software instructions into smaller parts that run in parallel on microprocessor arrays so that software programs compile and execute much faster. While computers can handle multiple tasks simultaneously, by comparison, humans are poor at multitasking.

The pandemic highlighted human multitasking limitations to me. Once CEOs became distracted with managing the moment-to-moment issues of keeping people safe, their regular strategic conversations about creating the future dropped off the radar. In many instances, I suggested to my clients that the CEO role be split between two people, so the tasks of managing the present and creating the future could happen in parallel. 

Three parallel worlds exist for every firm. Every business must juggle three things. 

Step 1. They must analyse the past and ask, What is going on here? - For example, "How does our business add value and make money?" 

Step 2. Firms also need to manage the present and ask, What are our options? – For example, "What do our key stakeholders want?"

 Step 3. They must also create the future by answering the questions. What will we do? – and "What will we do if that doesn't work?" 

As The Strategy Guy, I see that most businesses carry out Steps 2 and 3 quite well; however, most companies fail within a decade because they did not get help with Step 1 often enough. It is for this reason that I am passionate about making sure my clients always retain a dispassionate and accurate view of the world. 


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