The Seven Sins of Strategy
If you’re not content being with the majority of managers dog paddling around in the tactical end of the pool, then it’s time to commit yourself to becoming a better strategist. This is accomplished by understanding the seven sins of strategy and the action steps to avoid them.
Sin #1: Substituting Planning for Thinking. Since thinking is hard work, it’s not uncommon for managers to fall back on strategic planning in an attempt to shape the direction of their business. However, this ignores a crucial distinction—strategic thinking involves the generation of insights—strategic planning involves the application of the insights into an action plan. Relying on strategic planning without strategic thinking is tantamount to an organizational lobotomy because the essential thinking function has been excised. This results in tired, old tactical plans leading to marginally incremental improvement at best while stifling the organization’s potential.
Action: Provide managers with the knowledge base and terminology clearly distinguishing strategic thinking from planning, and provide them with tools to facilitate that thinking.
Sin #2: Lacking the Discipline to Say “No.” Strategy involves the intelligent allocation of limited resources. “Intelligent allocation” requires us to make trade-offs and focus those resources. Too often, because trade-offs involve risk, we take cover in the status quo and don’t make any trade-offs at all. While not making trade-offs and not saying “no” to areas of resource allocation may limit short-term vulnerability, it is often a sure sign of long-term weakness.
Action: Identify your resources—capital, talent and time—and begin detailing how they are allocated, including your time. Any surprises? How is this allocation different from past months/years? Does it reflect the changing market trends and customer needs?
Writing down the significant resource allocations is an objective way to begin measuring whether or not they are returning the requisite value for their investment.