Edit ModuleShow Tags

Failing faster


Published:

There’s a saying that people pass around a lot like it came from King Solomon: “It’s all about the execution.” As if strategy doesn’t matter. But, of course, it does. Executing brilliantly on the wrong strategy only makes you fail faster. As Sun Tzu said in “The Art of War,” “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

So if strategy is so important, why do many CEOs run from the topic? Many believe that they should be magically endowed with the wisdom of Solomon when they accede to the big chair on mahogany row. It is frustrating and humbling to not have an answer to the most fundamental but difficult question in business.

Several years ago, two colleagues and I did a series of presentations to many senior HR professionals to enhance their business acumen around strategy, financial literacy and change management. During those sessions, I did a workshop on strategic thinking. After defining strategy, I asked how many people could clearly articulate their company’s strategy. About 10 percent said they could. Coincidentally, I’ve given a similar workshop to numerous CEOs, and 80 percent said they could articulate it. Hmm … how is this possible?

Further, several CEOs I’ve had close relationships with tell me they couldn’t articulate their strategy, though they wouldn’t admit it outside the room.

Can you answer these questions?
• What integrated set of actions will allow you to create a sustainable advantage over your competitors?
• Why are you different from your competitors, and what evidence do you have?
• In three or four sentences, what’s your strategy? Would your co-workers all answer the same?

Don’t be the naked emperor, acting as though you know and everyone else knows where you’re going when, in fact, no one does. If you’re a CEO and cannot answer those questions confidently, I have two messages for you:
1. You’re not alone. Don’t be ashamed or feel foolish.
2. You can fix this problem (yes, it’s a problem!) with some help.

King Solomon, by the way, was noted for his wisdom, but legend says his kingdom eventually broke apart for his sins. Don’t let the same thing happen to your company. You don’t need the wisdom of Solomon to craft strategy, but you must have a process and be humble and courageous!
 

Edit Module
Todd Ordal

Todd Ordal is president of Applied Strategy®. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Todd is the author of Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing, 2016). Connect with Todd on LinkedIn, Twitter, call 303-527-0417 or email todd@toddordal.com.

Get more content like this: Subscribe to the magazine | Sign up for our Free e-newsletter

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Articles

Five Guiding Principles After Five Years on Outside’s Top 5

In the spirit of celebrating this honor, we’re pleased to share five of the guiding principles we live and breathe at our agencies.

Driverless Cars in a Dumbed Down World

Drivers have already become more passive with increased reliance on improved safety technology

Elevations Foundation Awards $50,000 in Community Grants

Each year, Elevations Foundation, the charitable arm of Elevations Credit Union, awards community grants to local nonprofits making a difference along the Front Range.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module