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Confucius, when asked about leadership, likened people to grass and the ruler to wind: whichever way the wind blows so will bend the grass.

This reveals an important implication for an intrapreneur or innovator. Your team looks to you to indicate which way to go. You may not control the entire field but you can accelerate or slow the wind on your grass.

You can alter the direction. You can guide them to be more customer-centric or internationally minded or efficient. Great innovative leaders create subcultures that unlock innovative behavior, even within bureaucratic organizations.

But trying to blow in an entirely different direction from your organization, or upwind, sets you up for a tiring battle.

Work with the flow of your organization’s leadership. Understand where your organization WANTS to go. This is one of the fundamental differences between entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. While entrepreneurs look for ideas the market will embrace, intrapreneurs must look for ideas that their organization will also embrace. She must look for ideas that disrupt markets without disrupting her corporation. She builds an organizational intuition, sensing the forces around her, knowing where to press and where to pull back. In this way, she more effortlessly exerts influence.

Don’t think of this “soft” approach as weak. Think of it as enlightened. As Lao Tzu wrote:

“If you want to shrink something, you must first allow it to expand. If you want to get rid of something, you must first allow it to flourish. If you want to take something, you must first allow it to be given. This is called the subtler perception of the way things are. The soft overcomes the hard. The slow overcomes the fast. Let your workings remain a mystery. Just show people the results.”

Here are five questions to help you identify in which direction the wind is blowing in your organization:

  1. Is my organization’s primary focus that of customer intimacy, product, operational efficiency, or people and culture?
  2. What are the five most important strategic priorities we’re pursuing right now (not the official ones but the ones leadership is actually investing in)?
  3. What is my organization most focused on this year, the next three years, or beyond that?
  4. What will my organization not do or accept? What are the boundaries beyond which they will not consider an idea?
  5. Who are the “catalysts,” the leaders who are willing to support unusual ideas? How do I get close to them?
“8Ps” of StrategyOpportunity
for Disruption
Recommended Leverage Points
Position- The farmers, individual and corporate, that you are targeting.

- The need of the agricultural industry that you seek to fill.
3- What technologies do you control that can help you tap into market
segments that you previously thought unreachable?

- What are the potential business alliances you could think about with key players in the segment to serve your customers with integrated solutions? (Serving customers with more integrated solutions example: serving farmers with fertilizers, crop protection and other).
Product- The products you offer, and the characteristics that affect their value to customers.

- The technology you develop for producing those products.
8- What moves are your organization taking to implement Big Data and analytics to your operations? What IoT and blockchain applications can you use?

- What tools and technology could you utilize or develop to improve food quality, traceability, and

- How can you develop a more sustainable production model to accommodate constraints on arable

- What is the future business model needed to serve new differentiated products to your customers?
Promotion- How you connect with farmers and consumers across a variety of locations and industries.
- How to make consumers, producers, and other stakeholders aware of your products and services.
8- How are you connecting your product with individual and corporate farms who could utilize it?
- How could you anticipate market and customer needs to make customers interested in accessing your differentiated products?
PriceHow consumers and other members of the agricultural supply chain pay for access to agricultural products.7- What elements of value comprise your pricing? How do each of those elements satisfy the varying needs of your customers?
Placement- How food products reach consumers. How the technologies, data, and services reach stakeholders in the supply chain.9- What new paths might exist for helping consumers access the food they desire?
- How are you adapting your operations and supply chain to accommodate consumers’ desire for proximity to the food they eat?
- How could you anticipate customer expectation to make products more
accessible to customers/agile supply chain?
- Have you considered urbanization as a part of your growth strategy?
- How your food satisfies the needs and desires of your customer.
- How the services you provide to agribusiness fulfill their needs.
9- Where does your food rate on a taste, appearance, and freshness
- Could the services you provide to companies and farms in the agriculture industry be expanded to meet more needs?
- What senses does your food affect besides hunger? How does your
customer extract value from your food in addition to consumption?
Processes- Guiding your food production operations in a manner cognizant of social pressure.8- How can you manage the supply chain differently to improve traceability and reduce waste?
- How can you innovate systems in production, processing, storing, shipping, retailing, etc.?
- What are new capabilities to increase sustainability (impact on the environment, or ESG) components?
People- The choices you make regarding hiring, organizing, and incentivizing your people and your culture.- How are you leveraging the agricultural experience of your staff bottom-up to achieve your vision?
- How do you anticipate new organizational capabilities needed to perform your future strategy (innovation, exponential technologies needed, agile customer relationship, innovative supply chain)?
- How do you manage your talents to assure suitable development with exposure in the agrifood main challenges/allowing a more sustainable view of the opportunities/cross-sectors?