13 03 2011

It’s a question that I hear fairly regularly, ‘why do I need a strategy?’ Then there is the statement which is the cousin of that question, ‘I don’t need a strategy.’

Cow Pooh (or words to that effect). You are deluding yourself. Let me explain why.

When it comes to strategy, are you a headless chicken?

In simple terms, you need a strategy as your means of identifying, and then achieving, your wants and needs (see ‘What Does Success Look Like?’)

As an individual, e.g. an athlete, this might take the form of a series of building blocks in order to achieve the desired goal and should also include the recognition and resourcing of the many support resources likely to be required along the way to ensure success.

For the corporate entity this will require the coordination of multiple departments all delivering their part of the greater corporate goal, possibly across regions and countries. The more considered the strategy, the greater the likelihood of success.

Let’s take a look at some of the arguments regularly put forward for not needing strategy.

“I don’t need strategy, I need practical solutions.”

What do you think a strategy gives you? A strategy will help you define where you are going and the most efficient, effective and economical way to get there. How practical do you want your solutions to be?

“I’m too busy; I have no time for strategy.”

There is a difference between working hard and working smart. Many people work harder than they need to because they do not take the time to define what it is they need to do and when before they start, as in have a strategy. And if you are a workaholic, great; just think how much more you’d get done combining smart with hard!

“I’m too busy, I’ll get round to it once my workload eases.”

Of course you will. The problem is (and you know this), your workload won’t ease. It won’t ease because you never take the time to figure out what needs doing in what order and to what priority, in other words you have no strategy so your workload won’t ease.

“I don’t need a strategy, I need action.”

Of course you do, we all do. But action without defined purpose (i.e. strategy) tends to look like insanity. Or do you want to look like the proverbial headless chicken?

“Actually we have a strategy; I just don’t know where it is.”

Just because it says strategy on the front doesn’t make it a strategy. And if your document sits on a shelf gathering dust, odds are it is not functional and/or relevant, which means it isn’t a strategy. You still need one for all the reasons above and more.

“I can’t be bothered. Success isn’t important to me. I don’t want to achieve anything.”

In which case, you’re right. You don’t need a strategy!

An athlete once asked a coach; “why do I have to follow my training programme,” to which the coach replied; “you don’t. But then you don’t have to go to the Olympics either.”

The coach sums up the need to have and to follow strategy nicely. The less ambitious you are, the less you care about results, the less success matters, the less your need for a strategy.

Conversely, the more you want or need something (such as success), the more vital the requirement for not only strategy but good strategy becomes.

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited, 2011


Twitter @cowanglobal




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