Success (or Failure) Without Strategy? There’s No Such Thing. Here’s Why.

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But They Say The Don’t Have A Strategy…

I’ve heard many speakers say it. They’re very successful and when they’re asked about their strategy to achieve it, they pause and say “we didn’t really have a strategy”. But of course then they go into a detailed explanation that to those of us that are into strategy, sounds exactly like a strategy for their success.

Let this sink in: there is no way to NOT have a strategy.

[Pause for the sinking process.]

You might have an unarticulated strategy or a poor strategy, but you have a strategy. Here’s why.


Why There’s No Such Thing As Not Having A Strategy

When I was doing strategy stuff at Kraft Foods, we uncovered an interesting consumer observation: Every day at 4:00 p.m. roughly 70% of households in America had no idea what they were having for dinner that night.

But did everyone in those households go hungry? Of course not. Instead, people naturally use an intuitive strategy process to resolve their meal issue and meet their goal –in this simple case, feeding their family.

Their conscious and subconscious thinking process (and yours too) starts with recognizing what we call a strategic intent (feed family) and then proceeds through a mental assessment of the current situation (e.g., are we home tonight? going to a school function?), any issues (gluten free?), any insights (convenient deli nearby?), a goal (food on the table by 6:30?), strategies (e.g., pick up something on the way home from the convenient deli nearby that has gluten free food) and finally, tactics (drive to the deli on 4th and Washington Ave.).


Strategy Is A Natural Process In The Brain

Simply stated, strategy is an intuitive process of making choices to achieve a desired outcome. It’s a natural thinking process that’s built right in to your brain. People naturally use the methodology over and over all the time. Trying to grow your business? Strategy. Marketing? Strategy. Want a raise? Strategy. Need just the right gift for that special someone? Believe me, strategy.

That’s one reason we can often help clients make very quick progress in developing a strategy for success. They find out the process comes naturally.

This doesn’t mean coming up with a strategy for success is easy. It can be very difficult and requires training and development to do it well. Depending on the strategic intent, it can take skillful analysis of the situation, creativity in coming up with strategies that work, and good, sometimes courageous, leadership to make the hard choices and get everyone aligned and engaged. But at least you don’t waste time on figuring out how to do strategy. That part comes naturally.

So, next time you hear someone say they don’t have a strategy, you now know that isn’t exactly right. Everyone always has a strategy. Everyone. Always.


Leaders at every level in every industry face many challenges in the way of success. To be a good leader and deliver the desired results, leaders need to be good at strategy. We enable leaders with strategy capabilities and give them the tools they need to succeed in work and life. For more information on how we can help you sharpen your skills and enjoy more success, please contact us here.