Maybe You and I Aren’t As Good at Strategy as We Think

To be honest I could probably make a compare and contrast list between business strategy and sex; but I decided against that. It seems like too obviously pandering to the SEO. Instead, I want to focus on just this one thing business strategy has in common with sex: both are on the short list of things almost everybody assumes they do well, and for which it takes bad news to prove them wrong.

We have to learn a lot of things. You take swimming lessons, and you learn math in school. Tennis, golf? Everybody takes lessons. But you’re good at strategy automatically; and, well, sorry to mention it, but also, sex. Or so we all believe.

I used to think it was strategy, driving, and sex. But in the last few years I’ve realized some people know they’re bad drivers. There’s progress.

I first realized this about 30 years ago when I was a vice president with Creative Strategies International. We sold market research easily, strategy with great difficulty. And that’s because, I came to believe, everybody feels great with strategy.

Don’t you?

Having watched this phenomenon for several decades now, I do think there’s a kernel of truth in this business strategy phenomenon. Think of any successful strategy you know of … doesn’t it seem obvious, after the fact? The problem is that a good strategy does seem obvious; but only after it becomes visible. The hard part is to think it up before it’s obvious.

10 thoughts on “Maybe You and I Aren’t As Good at Strategy as We Think

  1. When I became the administrator of a small private Christian school ten years ago, I came to the position with training as a teacher and with the foundation of understanding the school’s mission because I’d been a student here 20 years earlier. Everyone knew that I would learn administration on the job, but I was still expected to somehow know how to strategize for the future. Now, in part because lessons on strategy have been hard to come by, I’m being let go in favor of someone that already knows strategy. I think your blog hits the nail squarely on the head!

  2. I get my business strategy mojo by using the same principals to get a lady between the sheets. You have to be creative before during and after… LOL

  3. Chris: yeah, me too.
    Bill and Fearfighter1: thanks for the comments. I’d like to respond to both, but, for hugely different reasons for each case, just thanks for the comments.

  4. Great advice for small business CEOs…and their inner circle. Even those of us in the business who “sell” strategy. If we’re not constantly going to school on it, we’ll get stale or worse over confident in our skill sets.

    Our firm of CMO consultants gathers every two months and we always have a book review (that everyone’s read, and chapters are assigned for presentation).

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tim

  5. I’ve been wondering: How do you define “strategy?” Is it possible to brainstorm to arrive at one? What are the “parts” of a good strategy? Thank you!

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