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)

Goodreads | The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists

ENMEI-21 is a strategy for sustaining excellence in an ever complicated world. Its “Five Rings” are metaphors of the cyclical components of this strategy and their impact on everything we do as humans. 

The “Ring of Physical Excellence” is about your personal well-being, health and longevity as well as having the energy to meet the demands of professional life. Current science and medicine is producing more evidence than ever before that these four things help sustain physical excellence;

  • DIET
  • REST
  • EXERCISE
  • STRESS MANAGEMENT

In his book, “The Case Against Sugar”, Gary Taubes makes the argument that there has been a secret killer of physical excellence in our midst for almost two centuries. He suggests that modern disease, the sky rocketing of health care costs and the dominance of the pharmaceutical industry can all be traced back to….Sugar. His evidence is compelling, it’s worth reading.

 

Source: Goodreads | The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists

13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

 

The fundamental idea behind ENMEI is that there are five essential cycles or ‘rings’ that drive long-term excellence. I suggest that there is a specific order in which these cycles must be repeatedly revisited. Like the planets in our solar system, the orbit and movement of each planet is critical to maintaining a balance for the whole.

At the core of the ENMEI solar system are the circles of mental/physical excellence. Part of the cyclical process often involves the shedding of toxic mental & physical elements. Or in the words of Miyamoto Musashi,

Below is a good post from LinkedIn.com about shedding useless acts.

”Somebody once told me the definition of hell: “On your last day on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.” —

Source: 13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

Beginner’s Mind in the Digital Age

There is an Eastern tradition that states, “A cup that is full, cannot be further filled. You must empty your cup.” The essential idea is that when the mind gets full of knowledge and experiences, one can often get locked into traditional thinking or rely too heavily on those past experiences. An expert mindset is prone to becoming rigid, inflexible and closed off to new ideas.

Information and learning today move at speeds never seen in human history and as a result also have a shorter shelf-life than ever before. What you learn today is relevant for about 18 months by some estimates and your entire knowledge set is only about 15% relevant after five years. Scary stuff for those who have that full cup and rely on experiences from fifteen years ago. For many professionals and organizations, this became a stark reality during the economic crisis beginning in 2008-09 as they faced what is no less than “Economic Extinction”.

As children, human beings are full of curiosity and without preconceived notions of the world. They ask questions, are open to new ideas and eager to engage with the world around them in creative ways. They take risks but remain close to home. As an adult, it is possible to wed this sense of curiosity with the common sense wisdom that experience teaches. It is often referred to as “Beginner’s Mind”.

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The phrase “Life Long Learning” gets overused and can end up with a narrow connotation. Continuous learning is important but it can easily become too focused solely on a person’s circle of interests. If a person is a sports enthusiast for example and all they engage in is learning more about sports, then they never push outside the boundaries of their comfort zones. Beginner’s mind is like that first year of college where one is forced to engage in a variety of topics and stretch that mindset beyond that comfort zone. This leads to creativity, new ideas and new ways of thinking. It can also lead to new professional opportunity…so, are you embracing a beginner’s mind?

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Habits, Mastery & Sustaining Excellence

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It takes at least 45 days of deliberate and focused repetition to create a new habit. Mastery of a skill, on the other hand, requires a set of fundamental habits that relate directly to said skill. Those habits must be refined and developed over time, some estimate at least 10,000 hours but much of that will depend on the person and the quality of practice.

Sustaining Excellence is a strategy that incorporates all of this on a larger scale. It can have several categories including Mental, Physical, Skills, Group or Institutionalized Excellence. The guiding principle is that Habit, Mastery and Sustained Excellence are all cyclical in nature. It’s neither journey nor destination but continual process.

The Price Of Wisdom

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“When I was a little boy my grand mother told me the story of the wisdom of Solomon. After she had finished, I was so enthralled by the story that in the late of night I asked God to make me wise like the great king. Had I known then that the price of wisdom came by way of experience, earned only through many mistakes, it’s likely I would have just asked for a Porsche .” -Bryan Nann

Who’s Selling Snake Oil in The Digital Age?

The concept of mass misinformation and false propaganda likely goes back as far as the ability to read and write. Some historians speculate that ancient Egyptian narratives, depicted in hieroglyphics on many monuments are embellished and in some cases inaccurate.

Terms like Snake Oil Salesman has come to be synonymous with any practice intended to deceive the general public. It’s origins date back to the 19th Century in the United States during the Chinese migrations and the building of the Transcontinental Railroads. There was in fact a real product called snake oil but it ultimately became one of the best known examples of false advertising on the American Frontier.

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Snake Oil advertisements in the local newspapers are the predecessor to today’s fake social media news. SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons

Two centuries earlier, in feudal Japan, the nonconformist samurai Miyamoto Musashi touched on the need to be critical in judgement, analysis and weary of false information. As part of the nine rules laid out in The Book of Five Rings, Musashi states simply to “Learn to judge the quality of each thing“.

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In today’s language one would speak of critical analysis, scientific method or a healthy dose of skepticism. The recent US presidential election and subsequent studies like the one discussed in the Wall Street Journal below are potent reminders that the need to judge the quality of things is greater today than ever.  Fortunately these are skills that can be taught and cultivated.

Are you practicing critical analysis daily? Or are you getting fooled by the snake oil salesmen? 

A study of middle-school to college-age students found most absorb social media news without considering the source. How parents can teach research skills and skepticism.

Source: Most Students Don’t Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds – WSJ

Navy SEALs, Miyamoto Musashi & Early Risers, oh my…

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Recently Business Insider published a post on the value of being an early riser from the perspective of two former Navy Seals (see below). Back in 2011, I had published a similar post as part of the Circle of Physical Excellence strategy (see also below). The idea of “early to bed, early to rise” is not new, in fact the idea goes farther back than that famous phrase written by Benjamin Franklin in the 18th Century.

Additionally, there are many common denominators of excellence, across many fields and professions though out human history. The Habits of Highly Effective People are far more extensive than the Seven that the late Stephen Covey wrote about. Studying, adopting and revisiting these habits are the key to sustaining excellence.

http://wp.me/pM96P-dM Why Be An Early Riser? – Bryan Nann

Former Navy SEALs Jocko Wilink and Leif Babin tell you how to change your morning routine and “get up and get after it.”

Source: Former Navy SEAL commanders explain why they still wake up before dawn every day — and why you should, too

What are your new skills for 2017?

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Author and speaker, Brian Tracy, has often written that:

“Most people are just one new skill away from doubling their income”

In other words, a new skill can open a new world of opportunity or experience, both personally and professionally.

Legendary samurai, Miyamoto Musashi wrote:

“You must train in the way and practice daily”

Part of that “way” being the practice of developing new skills and staying the course with said skills practice.

Current science and medicine is finding compelling evidence that engaging in new activities, particularly later in life stimulates the brain and actually improves mental capacity, sometimes even physical vitality. It has been suggested this can combat Alzheimer’s and even improve mental alertness, contrary to conventional wisdom.

It’s also been proven that new skills can be effectively developed, regardless of natural ability, measured IQ or perceived physical limitations.

Much of what we do is simply skill development, here are some examples

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So what new skills will you go for in 2017?