What is Strategy in Business?

Many have historically confused strategy with tactics or other thought processes, particularly in business. Almost three hundred years ago, legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi wrote the “Ground Book” as one of the “Book of Five Rings”. In it he implies that strategy is the, well, ground work of everything that we do. It’s the ‘road map’ we use to chart a course both personally and professionally.

In today’s rapidly changing world however, I suggest that strategy is as much about being the cartographer (the map maker) as it is about charting a course. Our world, particularly in business today, is full of uncharted territory and unforeseen changes to the topography.

Strategy is indeed about charting an accurate course from where we are today to where we want to be but the true strategist keeps an eye on the sudden changes to the map and knows when, where & how to adjust.

“Confusing purpose with strategy is bad news for your firm and your career.”

Aligning Strategy and Sales, by Frank V. Cespedes (p.56)

What will you focus on in 2017?

From Aristotle to Lao Tzu and throughout the world there are examples of what is referred to as “Wisdom Literature”. These are historical texts that offer common sense maxims and guidance for everyday life. Most of them have recurring themes that revolve around the power of focus, habit, character and the principles that govern the consequences of our actions.

So what will you focus on in 2017?

lao-tzu-quote

Do you hit adversity back?

For the last six years I’ve been studying, in depth, people of significant contribution throughout history. From Marcus Aurelius to Miyamoto Musashi, to Theodore Roosevelt, to Steve Jobs and there are some distinct common denominators in their character. Regardless of their time, place, circumstances, upbringing or resources they all share a set of traits and behaviors that allowed them to find and sustain excellence despite sometimes major and/or chronic obstacles.

Recently, someone brought up this quote below and it was a great reminder that one of those key common traits of sustained excellence was the ability to navigate and overcome adversity. In a challenging economic, social and political time, there is no greater skill that can be applied to every endeavor of life than the ability to navigate and overcome adversity.

“Adversity hits us all, how we hit back is what defines us.”

-Unknown

Below is a brief but insightful assessment tool from the Harvard Business Review Blog that you can use to get a quick snapshot on resilience. Keep in mind that it’s nothing more than a snapshot of a moment in time. Resilience is a choice that you make everyday, that you have total control over and is ultimately defined by you and not by a snapshot. Keep hitting back!!

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Assessment: How Resilient Are You? – HBR.

Are you a person of Action?

Do you push yourself and your experiences outside of your comfort zone, or do you wait until dragged kicking and screaming?

Do you intentionally learn about new things you thought you would never have interest in, or do you cling to the same sports interests that you always have?

Do you read outside of your usual interests, or do you cling to the same television shows and digital media obsession? 

Do you pursue health, for the sake of energy & longevity, or do you try to diet for the sake of losing weight and getting back to the status quo?

Are you waiting for the world to return to ‘business as usual’, or are you delving into a global culture of unprecedented resources?

theodore-roosevelt-quote

SALES, Up for the “dirty word” challenge?

A well-respected business mentor(who happens to be my father-in-law) has always maintained;

“Whatever the profession you happen to be in, ultimately it’s sales.”

In his latest book, “To Sell is Human, The surprising truth about moving others”Daniel Pink brings forward significant empirical evidence to support this claim and validate what many have always intuitively known about the term “sales”. The book is also  a fun and easy read, giving some historical perspective on where sales has come from in the 20th Century to specifics on where it’s headed in the next decade. Not to mention that it also serves as another great example of the ENMEI concept of “Economic Evolution”.

If you consider the term “sales” a dirty word and believe that it has nothing to do with your profession, you should read this book. If your profession falls within the category of sales, you should definitely read this book.

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So now for the CHALLENGE:

Think of a profession, any profession, that you believe has nothing to do with moving others (hence sales) and post in the comments section why you believe it so. I will do my best to counter that challenge and others are encouraged to join in(just remember this is for fun, please play nice in the sand box).

Customer….XYZ. Buzzwords But Meaningful

Business philosophies can quickly evolve into offshoots that render the root philosophy almost obsolete in function. Take the philosophy known as, “Customer Service” for example…

The evolution has gone from;

  • CUSTOMER SERVICE
  • CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
  • CUSTOMER LOYALTY

They are the current buzzwords yes, but there is a real paradigm shift between the three. Do you know the difference? Do you understand the “Three P’s” that drive Customer Experience? How to create the culture that ultimately drives Customer Loyalty?

It is much more than merely the sum of the customer service parts….and in a digital age, it matters. No matter how small your business, it matters.

Inspiration in morning ritual?

Have you ever noticed how many people say that they have had their best ideas in the shower or some other morning ritual? Interestingly, I find that to be the case for myself as well but it just seems like such an odd place for inspiration. Don’t you think?

So 2012 comes to a close with a thought question…

When and/or where do you have your best ideas or inspirations? 

…and yes, comments are appreciated. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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What’s your dream job?

Today I’m feelin a little feisty and decided to share one of my “trade secrets”, so here we go…

Over the last fifteen years or so I’ve had the privilege to have interviewed literally thousands of people in different roles. A stock question that I ask every time goes something like this;

“You find a genie in a bottle and the genie grants you one wish, to pick your dream job. What would it be and why?”

Well of course it is a trick question, right? It is, but it isn’t and if you are an HR person raising your eyebrow now just hear me out. It really is a thought process question, a behavioral question and it’s meant to gauge a couple of things.

  1. Quick Thinking – Uh Oh! Is it a trick question? Isn’t it? How should I respond, is he looking for a ‘real’ answer.
  2. Creativity – Are you original? Or just going with the crowd?
  3. Courageous – You will to take a risk with a real answer, make yourself vulnerable in an awkward situation?

What is your DREAM job??? No surprise, most people try answering with what they think I want to hear; “Uhmm, to be a regional manager at a stable company, like yourself”, “To be managing a business”, “To be working for a stable company”, “Umm, well, I really wanted to be a musician, but that’s not reality”….Garbage!! Who really dreams of being a manager at someone else’s business? It also demonstrates the ability to listen, a dream job may not be based in a current “reality” so use some imagination.

So what would be my dream job? That’s easy……”Give me warp speed Scotty!”