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Every year around this time, we sit to think about last year and set our resolutions for next. But there is a major risk in continuing this tradition, especially if you are doing something new.

You see, the annual resolution exercise has ancient roots. Four thousand years ago, the Babylonians held a 12-day religious festival each March (the start of the Babylonian calendar) to reaffirm their loyalty to the king. Around 45 B.C., Romans refreshed the tradition, moving it up to January, which is named after the deity Janus who, with one face looking back and one forward, encouraged us to assess our past and reset our future commitment. Romans offered sacrifices to Janus and made promises of good behavior in the year to come.

Freeing yourself from the past

This tradition, then, is not about setting goals but about correcting past missteps. It’s about recognizing who you have failed – the king, the deity Janus, yourself, your family, your god – and resolving to behave in compliance in the 365 days to come.

Indeed, the word itself is rooted in fixing the past. “Resolution” stems from the root word “solver,” meaning to “loosen, untie, release” and make it firm again (by adding the suffix “re,” it means to go back).

Now this approach works when you are doing something that has been done before, when you are following a rule book already written.

But if you are building something new, a resolution can be dangerous. It can keep you on the wrong path. Blackberry resolved to serve CTOs, and Kodak resolved to make film, and look at what that brought them.

A flexible alternative to resolutions

Let’s look at an alternative. Consider, this year, setting intentions instead.

An intention is an entirely different animal. Drawing its meaning from the Old French entent, meaning a “goal, end, aim, purpose” and from the Latin word intendere, to “stretch out, lean toward, strain,” an intention gives you the flexibility you need to adapt and learn.

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman offers a brilliant metaphor for the difference between resolution and intention. A marathon runner runs with resolution. She drives forward toward the goal no matter what obstacles, physical or mental, she finds on the path. Indiana Jones runs with intention. As Hoffman puts it, “You want to be more like Indiana Jones, somersaulting under blades, racing a few steps ahead of a rolling boulder and swinging your whip until you reach your holy grail.”

It was intention that moved Microsoft away from its resolve to own every computer on every desk. It was intention that convinced Netflix to loosen up its model of streaming other people’s content.

Resolutions make you firm. Intentions make you flexible. Resolutions have you push. Intentions have you pull.

Three steps

At Outthinker we learned this lesson powerfully this year. After years of holding on to a resolution to build a consulting firm, we decided to start listening to what our community of Outthinkers really wanted. We lifted our eyes off the narrow marathon path and looked around. We realized our true intent was to enable people and organizations to shape the future and thereby make a better future for humanity. We realized that the world does not need or want another consulting firm! They wanted something else. So we are building that.

Ask yourself three questions as you design 2019:

  1. If you had succeeded in achieving all your resolutions in 2018, what goal or purpose would you have realized?
  2. What did you learn from your failures? What did they teach you about your approach or about what the world is asking for?
  3. What intentions can you set for 2019 that give you drive and yet the flexibility to learn and adapt?
“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?