One-And-Done Strategy and Other Fallacies

There are three common notions of strategy. All of them are fallacies.iStock_000012107866Small_Web


Notion (nō'shen) noun: A belief or opinion; a mental image, an idea or conception.


1. Strategy is Episodic

For many small businesses, strategy only takes place episodically. Times get stressful. Business models and value propositions are not forever.  Finally, a strategy is developed to plot a new course. But it's a one-and-done approach. Execution begins. Markets, customers, and competition change in some way. The business gets wrapped up in the day-to-day. Status quo prevails. Strategy moves to the sidelines. Time passes. Financials don’t improve or even erode. Another episodic attempt at strategy takes place. Another one-and-done.


2. Strategy is Calendarized

For some small businesses and almost all large ones, strategy is a process that comes up regularly on the calendar. Usually, it comes up once a year and becomes an annual organizational habit. It often doesn’t really affect much because the goal is to set targets for the next year, not to actually do the hard thinking about how to solve problems or actually grow. In my experience with most multi-billion dollar businesses, the annual strategy process isn’t actually strategy at all. It’s a glorified financial planning exercise.


3. Strategy is Ignored

The majority of small businesses don’t do strategy at all. They are often led by a founder or entrepreneur that has subject matter expertise (i.e., the business’s value proposition) and works really hard but often 1) sees no value –ROI– in strategy, 2) thinks strategy is for bigger companies with the time and budget to do it, or 3) isn’t convinced they need strategy in the first place.


Fallacy (fa-le-sē) noun: a false or mistaken idea; erroneous.


All three of these common notions of strategy are fallacies. If you believe strategy is employed only episodically at times of greatest need, you think of strategy as a silver bullet. If you think of strategy as an annual event, you think strategy is just a routine organizational process triggered by a date on the calendar. And if you ignore strategy altogether, you’re probably one of the 96% of businesses that fail before they reach their 10th birthday.


Dynamic (dī-‘na-mik) adjective: marked by usually continuous and productive activity or change; energetic, forceful.


You should know that strategy is inherently dynamic. Strategy is thinking through and choosing a path forward to achieve your goals. Any goals. At any level in the organization. Therefore, the “process” of strategy is actually triggered any time someone is faced with a challenge or has a problem to solve.

  • Want to grow your business? You need a strategy.
  • Market share problems emerge? You need a strategy.
  • Trying to land a new customer? You need a strategy.
  • Operational issues? You need a strategy.
  • Labor problems? You need a strategy.
  • Competition causing problems? You need a strategy.
  • Want to develop and introduce a new product? You need a strategy.
  • Digital transformation? You need a strategy.
  • Want to lose weight? You need a strategy.


Since strategy is inherently dynamic, you and every other leader in your organization need a clear understanding of the process of quickly, efficiently, and effectively developing strategy in real time at the point of need. And then instead of being triggered by a date on the calendar, it needs to be used every time a new problem or challenges arises. All that requires a change in thinking to shift your mindset away from a monolithic, episodic, calendarized notion of strategy.


Interestingly, you already intrinsically know the process for developing strategy but nobody has ever revealed this to you. Plus, you’ve never honed that latent strategy skill because, well, you've instead likely been taught fallacious notions about strategy. And you've never had someone help you unlock your own latent abilities.


But that’s a post for another time. This is enough to ponder for now.


Fallacious (fe-‘lā-shes) adjective: embodying a fallacy.


Is your notion of strategy fallacious?