Lesson Seven: Strategies

The concept: Strategy

  1. Symbols: Strategic, stratagem, strategist.
  1. Base: Scientific/humanistic, with Restored Gospel applications
  1. Etymology: Gk strategos, a general of an army; fr stratos, army + agein, to lead
  1. Dictionary: Webster’s Collegiate

Definition: The science and art of employing the armed strength of a belligerent to secure the objects of war, esp. the large-scale planning and directing of operations in adjustment to combat area, political alignments, etc.; also, an instance of it.

  1. Examples in base:
  • The general’s strategy was first to destroy the enemy’s supply bases.
  • Every person should have a well-thought-out strategy to secure his retirement objectives.
  • The overall health strategy is to build general immunity rather than to attempt to suppress the causes of every individual disease.
  1. Correlative concepts:
  • Genus: Plans
  • Constituents: Resources, opposition, plan, tactics, assessment, evaluation
  • Prerequisites: Problem
  • Consequences: Better productivity
  • Similar: Intelligent action, methodology
  • Contrary: Winging it, blundering
  • Perfection: A plan that meets every possible contingency with greatest efficiency
  • Opposite: Happenstance
  • Counterfeit: Irrelevant busywork
  • Levels:
    • Celestial: Reason out plan under direction of the Holy Spirit
    • Terrestrial: Work out plan by reason
    • Telestial: Minimal planning, mostly impulse
    • Perdition: Work out plan to benefit self, betray others
  1. Key Questions:
    1. What makes a plan into a strategy?
      1. Through systems thinking.
    2. Are strategies unique plans or standardized?
      1. May be unique to one situation or standardized approaches to meet standard problems.
  1. Definition: A strategy is a systems design created to solve a problem after a systems analysis of that problem, both carried out with all the care and acuteness one can muster.
  1. Positive example: Slipping and falling on ice with a learned strategy of failing.
    1. Negative example: Slipping and falling on ice without a strategy of falling.
  1. Effects of this concept:
  • Heart: One might desire to learn many strategies to meet the problems of life more intelligently.
  • Mind: One might study out and overlearn many valuable strategies.
  • Strength: One might employ strategies wherever feasible to hone the skills of implementing them.
  • Might: One might encourage others in his stewardship to learn strategies.

A “person of accomplishment” is one who has mastered several important strategies and has applied them to the problems of his or her life.

There are some strategies which everyone should master:

  • Reading
  • Science
  • Persuading
  • Writing
  • Scholarship
  • Courting
  • Personal hygiene
  • Philosophy
  • Parenting
  • Personal nutrition
  • Religion
  • Dying

Question: Why is each of the above important for every person in a Restored Gospel frame?

There are hundreds of other standard strategies which one would do well to master, some of which will be necessary to a specific course of life. E.g.:

  • Music
  • Translation
  • Manufacturing
  • Sports
  • Predicting
  • A profession
  • Public speaking
  • Classifying
  • Legislating
  • Budgeting
  • Farming
  • Judging

It is clear that the ultimate strategy is the strategy of righteousness.

Question: What is the pattern of the strategy of righteousness?

What systems thinking steps are part of the development of a strategy?

At least four analysis factors must be carefully delineated:

  1. The problem: Exactly what is the difficulty to be overcome?
  2. The environment: Exactly what are the static and dynamic elements of the environment in which the problem is found and in which the strategy to solve the problem must take place?
  3. The opposition: What aspects of the environment will make it difficult to overcome the problem?
  4. Resources: What aspects of the environment will be especially helpful in resolving the problem?

What systems design steps must be added to the above to complete good strategy thinking?

  1. Strategy: What overall plan will best use the resources available to overcome the opposition and solve the problem as effectively and as efficiently as possible?
  2. What specific tactics will best implement the strategy selected?
  3. What work must be done to implement the strategy and tactics?
  4. What assessment procedures should I adopt to be sure that I attain my goal?
  5. What evaluation procedures should I adopt so that I will learn from having performed this experiment?

Example: What strategy might one develop to do well in this course?

  1. The problem: To overlearn the target skills of the course while upgrading one’s value commitments and knowledge.
  2. The environment: The university, the other students, the professors, roommates, family, friends, the cultural milieu of Utah, the influence of the Church, the American cultural scene, the world-wide cultural influence.
  3. Opposition: External: Lack of time, money, space; lack of access to people who could assist by example and by instruction. Internal: bad habits, impure desires, poor health, lack of previous development, laziness, sloth, not enough recognition of the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Resources: External: Encouragement of parents and friends, class time and discussions afterwards, instructors, the library, intelligent and learned friends; time, space and money. Internal: Intense desire to learn, the companionship of the Holy Spirit, good habits, all previous learning.
  5. Strategy: Attend every class session; pay careful attention in class; discuss the assigned material with someone else on a regular basis; study out and execute each assignment soon after class; carefully formulate each piece of written work and turn it in on time; don’t believe anything to which the Holy Ghost does not attest; believe and do everything commended by the Holy Ghost.
  6. Tactics: Learn to take careful notes, neither writing everything down nor missing any key ideas, challenge everything said and done by the instructors, classmates and self, but voice those challenges only when appropriate; humbly seek the help of the Holy Spirit to understand what is being said, to learn what is true, and to acquire the skills an values which are important; develop a review plan, reviewing main ideas after one day, seven days and thirty days to fix the main ideas in mind forever; use and test the values, skills and knowledge being developed In this course In other courses and everywhere else it is possible to do so.
  7. Work: Work hard, consistently, joyously to do the best one knows.
  8. Assessment: Express what is being learned to others, to see if what one is learning is viable and valuable. Keep track of cumulative score on class assignments to see if one is headed for the grade one needs and desires.
  9. Evaluation: Weigh the benefits of what one is learning against the costs involved to see if what is being done is of eternal value.

What are the general features of the strategy of scholarship?

  1. Problem: To construct on the basis of record evidence a useful and accurate image of some past or distant event which one cannot perceive.
  2. Environment: A world where the past and future are unavailable for direct inspection, where they must be imagined by me to gain an idea of what they are. A world where other people are imagining the past and the future as I am, where we exchange ideas by speaking and writing, and where much of what is said about same is not very valuable.
  3. Opposition: Forgetfulness of witnesses, difficulties of communication, accidental nature of what records are preserved and which are not, lack of real understanding as to bow the world works.
  4. Resources: Memories, written records, knowledge of language(s), ability to read, ability to imagine, some understanding as to how the world works, understanding of how to be careful In evaluating what others say and In creating imaginary reconstructions of the past. (Primary sources are eye-witness or contemporary first-person accounts of historical events. Secondary sources are accounts of the past made up from primary or other secondary sources.)
  5. Strategy: Control the documents.

Create a bibliography of every primary documentary source on the topic; examine and interpret from the original language every document on the bibliography; record all salient information in a manner that captures its essence and makes rechecking the source most convenient; read what others have had to say (secondary sources) about the topic with a grain of salt; construct one’s own account of what happened and communicate it in acceptable form; present that account to others for their acceptance or rejection.

  1. Tactics: Be honest, imaginative, inquisitive, and skeptical. Write well.
  2. Work: Work diligently, concentrating solely on one project as much as possible.
  3. Assessment: Be sure that one has completed one’s account having observed the world’s canons of good scholarship, which are:
    1. Be rational (consistent).
    2. Account for every primary source.
    3. Discount the supernatural.
    4. Tell all.
    5. Acknowledge no right or wrong.

If one does not wish to abide the world’s canons of scholarship, one may employ the canons of good Restored Gospel scholarship, which are:

  1. Be rational (consistent).
  2. Account for every primary source.
  3. Use the help of the Holy Spirit to learn the truth of the matter.
  4. Tell only that part of the truth which the Holy Spirit instructs me to tell.
  5. Assume there is a right and a wrong; publish what is learned only if it is right to do so.

Or one might settle for the usual student path of less resistance:

  1. Try to be consistent.
  2. Use the most convenient sources, primary or secondary.
  3. Try to please the reader in creating the account.
  4. Do no more than is necessary for the assignment.
  5. Bend to the value commitments of the instructor.
  6. Evaluation:

Worldly standard: Accept the evaluation of one’s peers; or, accept one’s own self-evaluation.

Restored Gospel standard: Listen to the evaluation of one’s companion, but hearken only to the evaluations of one’s presiding authorities and of the Holy Spirit.

Student standard: Accept whatever the instructor says

What are the general features of the strategy of science?

  1. Problem: To create reliable and accepted descriptive assertions about the world.
  2. The environment:
    1. The physical universe as observed and reported by myself and others (phenomena and facts).
    2. The physical universe as interpreted by myself and others (laws, theories, principles).
    3. The society of my peers.
    4. The Spirit of Truth (the Holy Spirit), and the evil spirit.
  3. The opposition:
    1. Inaccessible phenomena and incorrect facts.
    2. False interpretations of myself and others.
    3. Evil intent of myself and peers.
    4. Counterfeits from the spiritual adversary.
  4. The resources:
    1. Huge data base and the opportunity to observe and experiment.
    2. Some correct understanding of the universe.
    3. Opportunity to cooperate with others.
    4. Opportunity to choose the Holy Spirit as my guide.
  5. Strategy: Control the data.
    1. Ground oneself in the received traditions of men as to the truth about the world (current science).
    2. Form a hypothesis as to facts, laws, theories or principles not now part of science.
    3. Deduce the empirical consequences of the physical system envisioned in the hypothesis.
    4. Observe or experiment and observe data relevant to the empirical consequences of the hypothesis.
    5. Decide whether the data gathered confirms or denies the hypothesis. If you decide that the data denies the hypothesis, start over with a new hypothesis.
    6. If you decide that the data gathered confirms the hypothesis, publish your hypothesis with its supporting data.
    7. Accept the judgment of your peers as to whether you have made a contribution to science, or not.
  6. Tactics:
    1. Control your observations and experiments. Vary only one factor at a time as much as is possible. Be careful.
    2. Rethink every scientific interpretation (fact, law, theory, principle) hitherto accepted in science; take nothing for granted. Be skeptical.
    3. Strive first for effective hypotheses, then for efficient ones. Be creative.
    4. Know and be known by your peers. Be communicative.
  7. Work:
    1. Stay current in the literature of the field.
    2. Constantly rethink the “edges” of your field.
    3. Sharpen your mathematical tools continuously.
    4. Garner funding or resources to pursue data collection.
  8. Assessment: Be sure that you abide the canons of worldly science:
    1. Be rational (consistent).
    2. Ground your ideas in a body of “public” phenomena.
    3. Be sure your hypothesis accounts for every pertinent previously accepted hypothesis of less generality.
    4. Your hypothesis must be more general than a rival to outlast it.
    5. Your hypothesis must allow the prediction of supporting phenomena not hitherto observed.
    6. Your hypothesis must construct a monistic universe.
    7. Your hypothesis must reject the supernatural.
    8. Your hypothesis must assume uniformity, cause and effect, and least effort.
    9. Your hypothesis must be accepted by your peers.
  9. Evaluation: Your hypothesis must be evaluated and accepted by your peers to count as science. They will judge it on the basis of power (d and e above), elegance (as simple as possible), timeliness (fits current interests and ability to comprehend it), ad prejudices (f and g above, at least).

Question:   How can one do science from a Restored Gospel frame? What would one need to change of the above?

What are the general features of the strategy of religion?

  1. Problem: How can I shape and mold my own character to become what I desire to become?
  2. Environment: The physical/social/cultural/spiritual milieu in which I find myself.
  3. Opposition: Inertia of old habits; lack of change in those around one; the temptation to do worse instead of better, social pressure to conform to the world.
  4. Resources: Scripture, the Holy Spirit, priesthood leaders who understand and can give advice and blessings, noble examples, great achievements. One’s own desires and agency, friends and parents who are like-minded.
  5. Strategy: Control the choices.
    1. Select the traits of character one wishes to attain.
    2. Select a sequence in which to acquire them.
    3. Overlearn each habit in the sequence designated.
  6. Tactics:
    1. Start with an easy, much desired habit, so that success will assist further change.
    2. Implement at least five kinds of reminders to change the habit.
    3. Implement a system of rewards and punishments for success and failure in changing.
    4. Seek divine assistance for each change and for reminders.
    5. Keep a journal of success, failures, and progress on each habit.
    6. Set a realistic deadline for each habit change.
    7. Find out what triggered each old habit; use that trigger for the new habit when possible; or, get a new, more powerful trigger.
  7. Work: Pour heart, mind, strength and might into the fray.
  8. Assessment: Note when one can go through the triggers for the old habit many times without implementing the old habit. Have a friend tempt and try one to see if the new habit is really reflexive. 9. Evaluation: Count the cost and determine whether the new character was worth the effort.

What are the general futures of the strategy of philosophy?

  1. Problem: To ask better questions so as to obtain better answers to the basic problems of mankind.
  2. Environment: A shadowy world were truth is difficult to come by except for immediate particulars (and it is sometimes difficult even to get truth there). A world where there are thousands of religions, each person having a slightly different religion, and where there are seemingly endless varieties of philosophic pronouncements.
  3. Opposition: The difficulty of establishing true universals. The difficulty of knowing what is good or right. The welter of opinions. The fact that one grows up in a religion and philosophy not realizing that they might be seriously flawed.
  4. Resources: The guidance of the Holy Spirit. The writings of intelligent men who have written on philosophy. Experience, which is a great teacher, but which has a high tuition. The advice and counsel of wise persons of one’s acquaintance. The opportunity to ponder and experiment.
  5. Strategy: Control the questions.
    1. Select an area of interest, narrow it to manageable proportions.
    2. Thank, pray and experiment with ideas in the subject.
    3. Search out the best thinkers in this area and acquaint yourself with their works.
    4. Formulate powerful questions and potential answers.
    5. Test those questions and answers against life, experimentation, friends and other philosophers.
    6. Write and publish your better ideas.
  6. Tactics:
    1. Question everything in a friendly, careful way.
    2. Establish some criteria for differentiating between ideas to be kept and pursued, and those which are to be discarded.
    3. Capture and record the main ideas of every thinker you encounter, making a permanent file.
    4. Keep a journal where you record your flashes of insight in a systematic way.
    5. Seek clues from the scriptures and from spiritual people.
  7. Work: Think, read and write on a regular basis.
  8. Assessment: Test your ideas and writing against those of the accepted great thinkers of your day. Ask people for reactions. Above all, consult the Holy Spirit as to how you are doing.
  9. Evaluation: Has your thinking brought greater insight and power of thought? Does it help you to see the gospel plan better? Does your thinking make you a kinder, better neighbor and a more faithful servant to the Father? Weigh the benefits against the cost.

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