Start with Now

"Diet starts Monday" - strategy killer number one.

Have you ever bought into a new fad diet, only to discover that it doesn't align with what's in your cupboard? I can tell you now, it's pretty hard to eat keto when all that's in the pantry is bread....

Strategy is fun when it's all about new, shiny things and possible futures. I don't have much trouble getting people to theorise about the hypothetical future where everything is neat and tidy. In this hypothetical future, we all start from a blank slate somehow and it's full of opportunity. The hard decisions have been made, the stakeholders are bought in, and everything makes sense.

Unfortunately, my keto plan isn't going to happen unless I readjust today's eating (and the bag of Haribo lollies I ate while I wrote this) and stock my pantry accordingly. And your strategy isn't going anywhere unless you take a good hard look at what's happening in your organisation today.

"The starting point is always now. The end is up to you." - Ron Kaufman

I had an email from Matt Church hit my inbox this week telling me that 'action precedes clarity.' I'm not too sure about that, but I will agree that theory is a waste of time until we ground it in our current reality. When I work with  strategy clients, I have them bring in a full inventory of their current and committed initiatives and work streams. Then, when we generate and evaluate potential strategic options, we include these too. Do they fit? If not - it's tough decision time.The danger in casting the strategy net too far into the future is that it loses meaning and relevance.

I know Steve Jobs stories are getting a bit like Einstein quotes but I do like this story from the 90s. When Steve Jobs rejoined Apple in 1997, the company was in bad shape. Losing money, Apple had a spaghetti mess of projects, products and ideas on the go. Jobs immediately cancelled 70% of Apple's products, refocused on just 4 computers (a desktop and a laptop, one each consumer and business) and turned a $1B loss in 1997 to a $300M profit in 1998.

How successful would he have been if he tried to just apply his new product strategy to future projects, letting the current mess continue? It would be like continuing to eat high carb and adding a high fat diet on the top - expensive, excessive and ineffective. Just start.

How To...  Start With Now

  • Keep an updated list of all projects and initiatives

  • Bring this list to all strategy and planning sessions

  • Be ruthless with your attention

  • Feed your bread to the ducks and stop buying Haribo.