Know Thyself

Michael Hanf

Managing Director of Taival Germany, Executive Partner

Tag : strategy

It was a cold and dark November day in 1998 when a friend and I started a hike from Inari to Pielpajärvi Wilderness Church.

Snow was up to our hips and we had roughly 3 hours before the daylight would disappear. We had no map or other plan, no proper clothing nor a concept of how to get to the church and back in time. At -20°C outside we started our walk into the forest. Stupid? Yes, I know now but at the point in time it made sense.

It’s an easy concept that, if you plan to make an adventurous journey you need to understand where you are today, where you want to go and how you want to get there. It’s also well understood that you need to understand if your skills and capabilities are enough to make the journey successful.

If you for example try to climb Mount Everest you need to understand from where you will start, where do you want to end up and what route you are taking but also if your training and skills are sufficient to get you there safely.

But it’s all too easy to forget and jump right into action, especially in the heat of the moment.

The current situation is not much different for your business. Over the past weeks and months, we have seen significant negative impact from the COVID-19 situation on businesses, be it impacts on the supply chain, employees or markets. It’s easy to understand that many companies have concluded that they need to change the way they operate and take the difficult journey towards becoming a lean, modern, digital version of themselves. Initiatives are conceptualized and kicked into gear.

But wait, have you done your homework? Do you know where you are going? How to get there? Is your organization, your ecosystem ready to survive the long journey?

The Rapid Exploration

The objective of this rapid exploration is to:

  • Gather existing development projects and the future needs of the organization
  • Review customer needs using user stories and customer journeys, and construct the most important development themes
  • Create a short- and long-term road map, as well as prioritized development items

Putting the customer where they belong

The approach is centred around customer or user journeys. Why? Because customers pay the bills. It’s critical to align your capabilities, operations and offering with real customer needs and wants. Therefore, the customer journey will provide you with an understanding of where to develop and what capabilities are required to do so.

At the same time, the customer centric approach helps to develop a common understanding across different stakeholders from across the organization.

Our Framework

To provide companies across all industries and sizes with a simple, rapid tool that will help in executing the rapid exploration in a fast pace while involving customer, key stakeholder and ecosystem partners, we have developed the rapid exploration framework.

To understand the fundamentals of your business today and in the future, you can take four simple steps:

  1. Identify and go-through existing development areas
  1. Analyse and recognize market trends and industry developments
  1. Formulate development themes
  1. Define a prioritized roadmap


Crisis situations require businesses to take rapid action to seize opportunities, address challenges or just to survive. But before acting you need to understand where you are, where you need to go and what you are capable of achieving.

Like taking a hike in Lapland, life has many surprising twists and turns in stock than can easily derail the greatest vision unless you are prepared and you know where you are heading and that you are capable of making the journey.

Otherwise you might end up in a situation that becomes more desperate than the point you started from.