On Strategy

I recently read an interview with Chunka Mui, a fellow with the interesting job of studying business failure. Mui’s book Billion Dollar Lessons may become the next management “must read”.

His basic premise is that execution is irrelevant if your strategy is not good. Indeed he notes quite accurately:

If you have a plan that’s fatally flawed, perfect execution can get you into more trouble because you dig yourself in deeper and faster.

This explains 99% of the dot-com bust.

My analogy to Mui’s point would be that of driving. If you do not know where you are going, stomping on the accelerator peddle just sends you spiraling off a cliff quickly. This is one of the many reasons we focus on marketing strategy at Silicon Strategies. Marketing is hard work and during execution it can be very expensive. It is worth every company’s time (even start-ups) to invest in marketing up-front and avoid the cliffs.

All that having been said, any smart CEO must accept the fact that sometimes the best thought-out strategy is wrong. Some things are overlooked, some seemingly innocuous assumptions end up being world-class dumb and even market measurements (surveys, et al) can be misleading.

This is where agility during execution is important especially in fast moving technology markets. If measures show that goals are not being met, either the execution is poor or the strategy was wrong. When this happens have a good look at execution and seek obvious failings.

If none are found, take everyone who is emotionally wed to the strategy and lock them in a closet.

Then have everyone else and review all the assumptions and measurements that lead to the strategy and see if anything is (now) obviously incorrect. Absent that, examine the basic demand assumptions and business model. You will have found something wrong with the marketing strategy and can fix it … if you are brave.


Speak up! What are your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.