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Strategic capabilities to navigate our future

Chapter four

Aotearoa faces changing circumstances and unexpected challenges. We must be willing to pivot and adjust as needed. 

Strategic capabilities to navigate our future

The kuaka has an underlying ability to navigate to its destination, but it must be adaptable and flexible in the face of unpredictable weather conditions and changing landscapes along its migratory route. It does not fly in a straight line.

The same is true for how Aotearoa faces changing circumstances and unexpected challenges. Even if – like the kuaka – we had the advantage of knowing exactly where we are going, against a backdrop of uncertainty and disruption, it would be naïve to think we can map out our future and chart a linear course to how we will get there. We must be willing to pivot and adjust as needed.

We will need evidence-based and innovative solutions and those will come from experts, scientists, mātauranga Māori and beyond. The focus of this State of the State report is on how we will get there: the strategic capabilities we collectively need to navigate our future.

The leading strategy author and practitioner, Roger Martin, argues passionately that it is “impossible to have a good strategy poorly executed. That’s because execution actually is strategy – trying to separate the two only leads to confusion.”37

Our research shows we need the capabilities to choose well in uncertainty, to think and act strategically about what we can and must do to achieve the outcomes that we desire, and to act well in an environment of disruption. In a high-change, unpredictable context, choosing and acting must be brought closer together as we find ourselves continuing to choose, to experiment and learn and to choose again. What we cannot do in the face of existential threats to our way of life is wait.

In this chapter, we set out seven strategic capabilities that we will need – across communities, public sector, and business – to navigate uncertainty and complexity, and bring about a future that delivers what we collectively value. Some of these capabilities exist but are not fully connected and harnessed across all levels of decision-making. Others are long standing gaps and must be invested in. Much like the courageous kuaka, we must prepare ourselves, be decisive and agile, and work together to navigate this journey. 


Get in touch

Adithi Pandit

Partner – Strategy & Business Design

Cassandra Favager

Director - Strategy & Business Design