I was thinking the other day how the pendulum swings in wildly opposite directions. Somehow, we find ourselves in a position where the mere mention of the term strategy sends people on a rant about how doing is the most important thing.
You'll figure out where you're going on the way, they say. I'm not disagreeing with the fact that making things is important. Of course it is.
The argument goes: it is better to have a poor strategy well executed than a superb strategy poorly executed.
How do you know it was a poor strategy?
How can you tell a good strategy?
It makes a business do well. [hat tip Roger Martin]
The cult of execution
This internal conversation about strategy and execution brought to my attention a couple of things.
I've witnessed too many half baked executions in my career, including my own, to worship at the altar of "just doing" it. There are examples of wasted resources everywhere: from campaign-based initiatives with no longevity or sustainability to speak of, to demoralized teams looking for a better pay day.
You would not be constantly looking over your shoulder for a better way if your way was giving you good results. You would be building upon those foundations if they served the reality of your business.
The truth is many an execution is divorced from the business vision, and the way the business is run operationally. We live in the real world, sell and buy (trade promises) in the real economy.
Which is why, organizations are often left hanging between the promises they made and those they delivered in the expectations market.
Then do different.
Ideas matter — Socrates, Aristotle, Galileo, Tim Berners-Lee and Steve Jobs in the business world have taught me the importance of thinking about what I do.
It is models of thinking that are being used as the foundation of how organizations are run. And it is models of thinking that are challenged and disrupted when new ideas — like kaizen, the balanced scorecard — are introduced to redefine how we live and work.
Yes, there are new executives who are gleaning their strategies from the concepts presented in Blue Ocean Strategy, for example. Thinking transforms ideas into strategies, and the best strategies transform businesses.
This is the thinking (and experience) that informed my proposal for conversation at WOMMA today.
I titled it the prequel because understanding how to deconstruct your assets for trade (or exchange), and promise as in the best promise to make is the difference between the reality of your business, and the expectations market.
It is powerful because it connects you directly with the purpose of your organization. Good trade gives back strength, resilience, and endurance to the business.
A couple of weeks ago, we had a three-hour session about the topic and I could already see how the conversation helped people deconstruct and reconstruct how their think about their business in a way that makes more sense — and will provide better results in social.
We need to think more, not less.