Explicit and implicit strategies

When we're acting as if something is true, we're enacting our implicit strategy. We're walking the talk of the real deal. When we're saying something is true, we're enacting our explicit strategy. We're talking the talk of some deal we want others to think is true. If these two kinds of strategy get disconnected, we don't know our own implicit strategy. We believe our explicit strategy and get haunted by our contradictory implicit strategy. We say one thing and do another like any garden-variety hypocrite. We cannot get it together because we cannot admit to ourselves how our actions say something different from our pronouncements. We cannot change our strategy while working at cross purposes like this.

Here are some examples of contrasting explicit and implicit strategies:

  1. When we're pushing the same product onto everyone, we're saying that we're meeting needs and providing value. We're acting as if there is no need to listen to customers, to cultivate relationships or to discover what beauty is in the "eyes of the beholder".
  2. When we're studying hard and getting good grades, we're saying that we're learning a lot and getting a quality education. We're acting as if there is no need to follow our intrinsic motivation, to tie in new information to our personal experiences or to learn something only when the time is right for us.
  3. When we're spending big bucks on prosecuting and punishing deviants, we're saying that we're protecting ordinary citizens and improving public safety. We're acting as if there is no point in rehabilitation or remediation for those who are caught up in cycles of abuse. 
  4. When we're trying to control what others do, we're saying that we're in charge and exercising our authority in the situation. We're acting as if we've got nothing to lose and we have no influence to change others' conduct indirectly.
  5. When we win at others' expense and succeed at "winner takes all" games, we're saying we're victorious, superior and newsworthy. We're acting as if there's no long term cost to winning this way and no context getting trashed by our one-sided conquests. 
  6. When we're fixing what's broken and alleviating symptoms, we're saying that we're solving problems and getting our job done. We're acting as if there's no way that we're feeding the problems, we're failing to prevent them or we're misdiagnosing the deeper dynamics in play. 
  7. When we're acquiring more possession, we're saying we're feeling abundant, looking prosperous and improving our quality of living. We're acting as if there's no way we're implicitly unsustainable and overly-materialistic.

Our rivals can trump these explicit strategies by taking up the challenges posed by our implicit strategies. While we act as if we cannot go there, they can act as if they can. As we deny the possibility, they explore and exploit it. While we assume it doesn't work that way, they will get it working in their favor. Failing to integrate implicit strategies with explicit strategies gives away leverage to rivals.

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