It was Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, Prussian Army Chief of Staff during the 19th Century, who stated that “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

His line has been adopted and adapted many times over in everything from boxing to business. Despite that, many businesses and organisations persist in spending inordinate amounts of time, money and resources in detailed long-range planning that ends up being worthless past the very first stage of implementation.

Unfortunately, many small and medium-sized business owners recognise this and therefore take what I call the Aussie Rules approach to planning and strategy: Well, just kind of train hard and then hit the field, run for the ball and hope for the best. Maybe get a bit aggro from time to time. That should work.

It’s a dangerous approach as the reality is, strategy – not infinitesimally detailed forward planning – is vital to the success of all business and service endeavours, whether you’re a micro-business of one or a large organisation of thousands. Without it, the giants of modern business and services would never have survived and thrived.

To use local examples, Fortescue Metals Group, iiNet, SilverChain, The Perth Wildcats, Dôme Coffee Restaurants, UWA, St John of God Hospitals, Canva and more would not have become the success stories they are without powerful, adaptive strategy.

Good strategy guides your decisions on a daily basis, helping you to focus, gather resources, decide what NOT to do as much as what TO do.

So here’s one vital question that you can always ask to help your strategy. It’s these kinds of questions that I ask in my strategy work with small and big companies. It’s simple. Here it is …

“What are we really trying to achieve here?”

Seems almost too simple, doesn’t it? Yet, I assure you, it is lost in the helter-skelter EVERY day in organisations all around Perth and around the world.

If you can clearly articulate your answer to this question and it helps you to decide how to act successfully in the moment, then you’re on your way to developing better strategy.

There’s much more to strategy than that question, of course, but that’s a discussion that’s part of a much longer-term strategy on my part 🙂

© 2019 Peter J. McLean

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