November 30, 2012

“We could leave our strategic plan on an airplane and it wouldn’t matter. It’s all about execution.”   CEO of a large U.S. Bank Since many strategic plans are nothing more than budget-driven, out-of-touch, unused slide decks with the relevance of a Sear’s catalogue, leaving them on a plane isn’t a bad idea. But, any manager that believes “it’s all…

Strategic Trade-Offs: Does No Mean No?

November 1, 2012

Towards the end of the calendar year, armies of managers march in and out of conference rooms brandishing laptops and wielding PowerPoint templates containing the makings of next year’s strategic plans. The plans generally contain industry data, market patterns, sales trends, competitive intelligence, customer analysis, goals, objectives, and tactics. And all of that means absolutely nothing without the most critical…

Strategic Thinking and Profitable Growth

October 16, 2012

Are you getting beat? It’s a simple question whose answer consists of either a confident “No,” or the defiant, “Yes, but…” that’s littered with excuses. To be clear, the response is a one-word answer. If your answer isn’t the one word you’d prefer, there may be a number of reasons why. One of the primary reasons may be the #1…

Behaving Strategically

October 2, 2012

As you interact with your managers on a daily basis, their behaviors will often tell you a great deal more than their words. We’ve all been in meetings where a person uses the word “strategic” to preface the majority of their comments: “strategic priorities, strategic objectives, strategic metrics, strategic napkins”–you get the picture. But, how often are they really being…

Defender, Challenger or Spectator?

July 11, 2012

A condition is a situation with respect to circumstances. The term condition can be applied to a number of different arenas, from medicine (What is the patient’s condition?) to sports (What are the conditions of the golf course?). Before a physician prescribes a course of treatment for the patient, she will first want to understand their condition (symptoms, age, allergies,…

If Abbott & Costello Did Strategic Planning

June 1, 2012

Abbott: Well Costello, this year’s strategic plan has to be the best ever. Costello: Yes, Abbott and we’ve got to get it just right. The first thing we need to do is make sure everybody understands the key planning terms. What is a goal? Abbott: That’s exactly right: what you’re trying to achieve is the goal. Costello: I don’t think…

The Strategylight Zone

May 16, 2012

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to most managers. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between art and science, between the qualitative and quantitative and it lies between the pit of a manager’s fears and the summit of their knowledge. That’s the signpost up…

Pick-Up-Sticks for Strategic Thinking Tools

May 10, 2012

Pick-Up-Sticks is a game many of us played as kids. If you recall, a bundle of sticks roughly six inches long are held in a loose bunch and released on a table top, falling in random disarray. Each player then takes a turn removing a stick from the pile, with the goal of not moving or disturbing the remaining ones….

The Strategic Insight Sundae

April 6, 2012

On a warm spring night, it’s hard to deny the appeal of an artfully crafted ice cream sundae. Whether it’s a banana split or peppermint chip drizzled with hot fudge and peanuts, it’s a mouthwatering sight to behold. And when it’s first made, all of the ingredients can be seen clearly in their places. But wait twenty minutes before eating…

Play Business!–Creating a Strategy Spring Training

March 19, 2012

Major League Baseball’s annual spring training means the welcoming back of warmer weather, the smell of freshly mown grass and another year of the Chicago Cubs not winning the World Series. Men making millions of dollars a year, the best in the world, invest approximately six weeks to refresh on the basic skills of the game. When is the last…