The map is not the territory

Sitting in Dubai at a senior mangers conference for one of the biggest companies in the world and something became very evident to me.

The map is not the territory

It’s true that you can look at all the new business strategies, future business, HR strategies, sales strategies and every other strategy under the sun. These strategies are great ways to improve our business and guide us through the future and current challenges in business.

Here’s the complication, as Debra Searle discovered, training on the River Thames does not help when you are training for a race across the Atlantic Ocean. The still water of the Thames helped Debra train for the race by preparing her strategy to complete the race, to get fit for the race and to understand the race better. The planning phase on the Thames provided the map but the territory was very different. You are still rowing, you are still aiming towards the same destination but everything else is different.

You see strategy helps you draw the map and decide on your route. When you get past the map and start following the map you soon discover that there are so many intrigues that weren’t discussed in the strategy.

Following the map takes more guts and more leadership than designing the route or drawing the map. The map drawing and the route picking takes a lot of intelligence and you often need great business consultants and strategists to help you through the process. However the route following takes guts and determination, it takes more time than you have in your business conferences, it takes investment and a confidence that you have made the right decisions.

Designing the map is the easy part, following the route you have mapped is the hard part.

So at this point I would like to raise a toast to those leaders who have the guts to follow the route and test the terrain. These leaders should be in the hall of fame.

If you would like to, why don’t you add the names of men and women who you believe have tested the terrain and lead their businesses through great change that changed their industry and the world we live in in the comments below. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

One thought on “The map is not the territory”

  1. Bruce Kodish says:

    Alfred Korzybski, the engineer-scientist, who came up with the saying ‘The map is not the territory’, formulated the first, as far as I know, non-aristotelian system, known as ‘general semantics’ his early 20th Century synthesis of what humans know about how humans know, with a methods for teaching advanced ‘thinking’ skills to even elementary school children. Korzybski designed a theoretical map of the territory of knowing and followed the route he had shown by teaching groups and working with individuals showing them how to ‘think’, i.e., evaluate better in their daily lives.

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