Getting it Backwards

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“You can sprinkle truffles on a dish and call it fancy, but all it really is, is expensive.”

That line from Rick Bayless flashed into my mind when I read a post on Blogging Innovation titled: “No Strategy – No Innovation.” Here’s the core thought from the post, which has been deleted as of January 2018.

“You’d think with all the fawning press many companies and executives receive that defining a clear, concise corporate strategy would be a “no brainer”. After all, don’t we hire and pay executives exorbitant sums due to their vision and strategy? You’d think that with the hordes of “management consultants” available from a wide array of highly compensated consulting firms that well-conceived strategic plans would simply flow like water from these founts of knowledge. And let’s not forget the virtual library of books on corporate strategy, from the likes of Drucker, Porter, Hamel, Prahalad, and so forth. Clearly there is a wealth of information, advice and knowledge about corporate strategy. Or at least there is a good facsimile. What kills innovation at the start, in the middle and at the end is the lack of a clearly defined, articulated and executed strategy.”

Jeffrey Phillips, who wrote the post, has got a lot right. Without a clearly defined strategy, innovation is a collection of random shots in the dark.

The problem is bigger than that, though. The problem is that we’ve got it backwards.

We’ve made strategy the point. It’s not. We’ve begun to think of strategy as something that only big brains can do. It’s not that, either.

The best strategies aren’t conceived by the business version of rocket scientists. The best strategies provide simple guidance for action. Jack Welch’s advice is relevant.

“In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward … You pick a general direction and implement like hell.”

Rick Bayless said it about restaurant dishes. Fancy, philosophical, strategies aren’t usually any better. They’re just more expensive.

Boss’s Bottom Line

We put too much emphasis on having strategies that are new, innovative, and sexy. We don’t start businesses so we can have slick strategies. We create strategies that help our business succeed.

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