Can You Say No?
post # 85 — May 23, 2006 — a Strategy post
Today I posted a new article on my website entitled Strategy Means Saying “No”.
I won’t try to summarize all of the arguments here, but will just point out that the article is about the difficulty that all companies and all individuals have in turning away the opportunity for short-term cash in order to stay focused on their declared strategy. (The article is an explicit follow-up to my earlier article Strategy and the Fat Smoker.)
One of the saddest mistakes businesses make is that by stressing growth and volume (goals that are almost sacred in most companies) they are inescapably, unavoidably inevitably led to compromise their own strategies and turn themselves into undifferentiated organizations that look like everybody else.
If you stress growth and volume above all else, then you’ll end up, strategically, with the posture of “We’ll do anything you ask, just pay us and we’ll do it.” And you know what that reminds you of, right?
Being strategic is hard. It requires you to focus on what makes you truly differentiated and special, and truly delivering on that promise. You do achieve greater volume and profits because of your excellence.
But there’s a difference between “Let’s make money by delivering on our strategy” and “let’s make money any way we can.”
Too few companies (or individuals) have the courage and ambition to do the former, and too many companies (and individuals) come across with the latter clearly as their operating philosophy: “we’ll do anything for the money, just ask.”