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Strategic Discipline Blog
If you’ve been to the gas station recently you’ve noticed the plunge in gas prices. It’s a trend in recent months and it illustrates and important strategy and planning benchmark that your business should be doing on an annual basis, and possibly more frequently depending how fasting you are growing compared to your industry.
Nature generates variations through a massive and ceaseless set of experiments. Mutations test a wide range of survival strategies.
Twelve tired, sweat covered young men shuffle through the hall toward a classroom. Each chooses a desk to sit in, plops themselves down for an unexpected respite from a grueling first week of basketball practice. The group looks around, engages in small talk, with one team member shouting out, “Wick, do you know what this is about?” I shrug my shoulders. It’s a first time experience for me as well as the rest of the team. Shortly thereafter, the new head coach enters his biology classroom where the boys have taken up temporary residence. Coach Belke strikes a commanding appearance. He’s about 6’2” with a barrel chest, large thick forearms, and looks every bit like the man who supposedly had a try-out with the Chicago Bears. Immediately the room falls silent, such is the presence he dictates. While Coach Belke has coached football and basketball before at Princeton High School, it’s been nearly a decade since he’s done either. He volunteered to take on the task of coaching basketball this year when our coach of the past three years unexpectedly left for a better teaching position. After years of dismal sports performances, this team is expected to do well. Our sophomore year our team won the first game a Princeton basketball team had won after 37 consecutive losses. The following year (our junior season) our team finished 13-6, 3rd place in the conference. Expectations are high.
In 2012: Planning or Strategy we discussed the distinction between planning and strategy. While many companies struggle to execute their plans, the reality is most companies fail not due to execution, rather due to poor decisions.
The NFL football playoffs started this weekend, and fortunately my team won [Green Bay]. In reading an article before the game I was drawn to a set of beliefs legendary San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh had which he used to prepare for big games. Several of the rules apply to business. They reminded me that too many business people approach their operations with no set of guidelines, nor any discipline to prepare themselves or their team for success.
David Sokol, Warren Buffet’s Mr. Fix it, indicated his team meets to work on a five to ten year plan each year. Many companies overlook the need to do long term planning, and in fact long term planning can seem passé as technology and the pace of change render forecasting to be so difficult.
It is a recurring theme I almost wrote about yesterday. Today several speakers addressed it again - the importance of discipline and the value of strategic thinking and preparation over strategic planning. David Sokol, Warren Buffet’s Mr. Fix it and the man consistently mentioned as Buffet’s eventual replacement, Chip Heath [Switch] iz Wiseman [Multipliers], and Verne Harnish all delivered insightful messages today. I’ll offer more from each in my blogs ahead.
This week I spent about 16-20 intense hours working with a client’s executive team developing their strategic focus through Gazelles Two Day Rockefeller Habits Workshop. In Willie Pietersen’s book Strategic Learning he indicates that focus and compounding are the two most powerful forces in the universe. Developing clarity of focus is your springboard. Albert Einstein called compound interest the most powerful force in the universe. [Compounding is reinvesting the income on an investment and watching your principle grow. It grows exponentially over time. See Chart below.]