Walk the Talk

I have been revisiting some of my earlier work on strategy.  This piece from nine years ago is about implementation of it and making it stronger with a transparent organization.  While this is about organizng, the principles are the same in a company – where the organizing principle is the job.

Organizations that thrive in a changing world all have one thing in common – a strong strategic focus.  They know their objectives and strategy very well and communicate them effectively.  What is less obvious is that a good strategic plan comes from individual people.  It takes a lot of skill and a little planning to work it up into a real plan, but there is never any substitute for the old “walk and talk” – getting to know the clients, customers, employees, citizens, or any other way you want to define the people of an operation.

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Strategy & Leadership

Leadership.  There has been a lot of talk about it lately, or more to the point the lack of it.  In common talk it is defined as “Doing or standing for the things I like” far more often than is useful.

There is a horrible lack of leadership everywhere in the developed world right now.  Can anyone name a powerful nation with good leadership?  Perhaps you can name a few businesses that have it, but not many.  How about social leadership? Religious leadership?  Are there more than a few people in rich nations anywhere who have a strong following that is capable of getting done what they want or need to?

Then again, the lack of leadership is hardly surprising.  It is not about a charismatic figure that molds the masses to action – it’s about getting things done.  That requires strategic thinking, and strategy is something horribly under-appreciated.  I might chalk that up to excessive selfishness or a failure of moral character in our world, both of which are issues.  But upon reflection, it seems to come down to a lack of understanding of what Strategy is and why it is important.

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Reacting vs Planning

Good decision making comes from experience, and experience comes from bad decision making. This has been one Hell of a year, but what did we learn?

If you are shivering and exhausted after being blasted by a firehose of news and information, you are far from alone. That’s the nature of our world, and generally you have two choices: do your best to take it all in and make sense of it, or unplug and have a good life.

But like Buddha’s choice between hedonism and asceticism, either choice has to leave you wondering: isn’t there a third, middle way? And there is. It’s about planning and learning, about enjoying the here and now without a lot of noise but staying on top, perhaps even above, the world.

If we have learned one thing from this year I would hope that it is that a series of reactions is never a substitute for an actual strategy.

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Strategy and Leadership

I have been thinking about a few things, and this post from 2015 summarizes some of them well.

Leadership.  There has been a lot of talk about it lately, or more to the point the lack of it.  In common talk it is defined as “Doing or standing for the things I like” far more often than is useful.

There is a horrible lack of leadership everywhere in the developed world right now.  Can anyone name a powerful nation with good leadership?  Perhaps you can name a few businesses that have it, but not many.  How about social leadership? Religious leadership?  Are there more than a few people in rich nations anywhere who have a strong following that is capable of getting done what they want or need to?

Then again, the lack of leadership is hardly surprising.  It is not about a charismatic figure that molds the masses to action – it’s about getting things done.  That requires strategic thinking, and strategy is something horribly under-appreciated.  I might chalk that up to excessive selfishness or a failure of moral character in our world, both of which are issues.  But upon reflection, it seems to come down to a lack of understanding of what Strategy is and why it is important.

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Automation – For People?

“Machines should work, people should think.”
The “IBM Polyanna Principle”

This slogan seems to come from an IBM ad from the 1960s, but it may be much older. It’s based on a vision of the future where robots do the heavy lifting and humans have time to dream up new ideas. In many ways, it describes the world we live in today. In other ways, it’s as much of a cartoon as “The Jetsons”.

The problem with automation is that it doesn’t stop just at physical work. Today’s machines do the thinking for us – or at least make it easier for a small cadre of professionals to view the “big picture”. Are humans becoming redundant? Is there a place for people and work in a world already heavily tilted towards capital and the machines it can buy?

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Fight it with Funny

Is it just me, or are there a lot of protest rallies these days? Certainly the South has lit up with marches and displays of the Rebel Flag now that the Palmetto State has taken it down from the Statehouse. There seems to always be something going on somewhere and some of them are from groups or people pushing something that others may find offensive.

What to do about it? The one thing you can’t do is let ‘em get to you – the moment you are offended and act out in a way you might not otherwise is the moment they gain power over you. The key is to laugh, to deflate the moment and dissolve the tension in a roaring guffaw.

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Logistics

“Amateurs talk strategy, experts talk logistics.”
– Common US Army saying

Barataria has been discussing some of the key skills and perspectives that define the next economy with an eye towards teaching them to the next generation that will need them the most. Cooperation in competition is certainly rising in importance in a higher technology world, as is the need for a flexible workforce  and a greater reliance on automation.

All of these come together with a greater need for strategic thinking, and its related leadership models, but are executed with the great challenge of a time when everything moves faster every day – the art and science of logistics.

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