Essence of Strategy

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” – Michael Porter

Stop starting; start finishing.

Purpose-driven organizations and individuals do not experience choice. At least not like the way a distracted leader experiences the shiny object syndrome. Purpose-driven organizations sustain the long-term vision and focus on developing near-term outcomes.

There is absolute clarity on what not to do. Unsurprisingly in most organizations, a large amount of the organization’s capacity is wasted in chasing too many objectives.

A senior leader with a staff of 300 engineers, whom I coached, framed this beautifully.

“What could you learn if the company paid for one full year’s salary & benefits ?”

Many people felt that within a year, they could learn a new language or learn to play an instrument.

“Then why can’t we ship something, when we spend a whole person-year effort every day.”

And so began their Agile transformation journey. In less than two weeks, the C-level prioritized and selected 5 out of 47 initiatives to be active. All other initiatives were put on hold or shut down. The entire engineering staff was freed from distractions to focus on the essentials.

The leadership strategy was finally clear through the ranks of the entire company.

What has been your experience with prioritization at the executive level?


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