Viewing entries tagged
Strategy

Wanted: More Chess Players

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Wanted: More Chess Players

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Every year organizational leaders get together to discuss the future.  They set goals, define measures of success, and develop plans.  Most call it strategic planning.

This work is very important, but it’s largely tactical.  Mistaking it for strategy forsakes the opportunity to affect the market you operate in.  It’s declaring victory way too early.

The whole point of strategy is manipulating the external forces working against your organization to improve the prospects of your tactics.  Tactics deployed in absence of strategy do succeed, but often by chance and very often in vain.

Strategy must be focused outside the organization.  And it must involve some degree of deception.  These distinctions are critical to its success.

So, while most organizations mistake tactics for strategy, they survive because, well, most organizations mistake tactics for strategy.  The opportunity to strategically dominate the market remains available to those who recognize their mistake.

It’s kind of like chess.  You can’t win relying on tactics alone.  But at least in chess, the need for strategy becomes painfully obvious after just a few games.

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Just Say No

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Just Say No

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There’s an old saying in investing about taking care of the losers and letting the winners take care of themselves.  Irrationally, most investors do just the opposite and let the losers drag their portfolios down.

It must be human nature, forsaking the probable for the possible.  It seems very difficult to forgo an intriguing opportunity or give up on a failing effort.  After all, what if it turns around?  What if it’s the next big thing?

Organizations are not immune to this tendency.  They’re filled with underperforming efforts that heavily tax resources, yet somehow manage to endure.  The what-if fallacy is endemic.

This is why organizations must adhere to an effective, omnipresent strategy.  It’s the only way to know how best to allocate resources.  To know when to say no.

Saying no preserves resources for innovation, opportunity, and growth.  At the very least, for reinforcing successful efforts.  Saying no emboldens and empowers.

In any organization, rewards flow to those who say yes.  But, success flows to those who know when to say no, and have the courage to say it. 

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Tactics Masquerading as Strategy

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Tactics Masquerading as Strategy

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In World War II, the European conflict ended when Hitler ran out of gas. Literally.

It wasn’t an accident. It was a key element of the Allied strategy. The Allies controlled the oil and they kept him from gaining access to it.

Not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of war strategy, is it? What about the battles, the firepower, the brave and heroic efforts of millions? Those are tactics–vitally important, but not what wins the war.

Most organizations suffer from this same confusion. They mistake planning with strategy (strategic planning). Though crucial, planning is purely tactical. It’s what everyone is doing. And probably planning similar tactics, too.

Strategy is deceptive. It’s what no one expects of you, and what no one else is doing. It’s what moves the market toward you and away from them. It’s what keeps you in the lead.

So, keep improving your tactics. You’ll need them. But if you want to control your destiny, you’ll need strategy. Just don’t ever confuse the two.

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