In the worlds I inhabit, I am noticing an increasing lack of attention being paid to strategy. Whether it be in business, or in politics, or in personal lives, where people are moving from day to day with little focus on options beyond the next few weeks or months. Tactics have become extremely trendy, while strategy is somehow seen as unattainable, esoteric, obtuse or in plain language “a waste of time”.
A couple of theories:
Younger people: Rushing to embrace the nu nu instant world of the internet and short attention spans, are unable to expand their day to day life to adhere to “goal making” and other “long term”, “esoteric” topics. Alternatively, as Hugh Mackay says, people of 30 and under have been raised in a generation of immense change: economic recession, economic boom, technological change, internet revolution, economic paradigm shift, globalisation, the internet, etc. There is so much change and it occurs so quickly that people are reluctant to commit to anything for fear it may become obsolete – hence his term, “The Options Generation”.
Or is it something else – the labour shortages in Australia are leading to a general lack of brains in management? The thought economy is largely populated by people who haven’t an original thought?
Maybe it’s people who are time poor: Too much time working IN the business and not enough time working ON the business. I liked the expression I heard from the Director of Marketing of National Foods, “our people used to have a lot of headroom, now much less so. Headroom is the 10% of work time which accounts for 90% of all good ideas”. Is there less headroom in business? Are businesses demanding much more, a false economy in terms of increased sales, accountability and billable hours whilst simultaneously ignoring the longer term planning and frameworks?
Or might it be risk aversion: Nobody wants to pin their hat on a strategy and tactics to back up that strategy in case they chose wrong and someone holds them to account. Again I talk about my massive frustration at the stale and dull state of general entertainment and advertising (anyone watched free to air TV lately?).
Sun Tzu, military strategist and all round good guy, write in his magnum opus “The Art of War”, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”.
Why aren’t people BRAVE enough to just say: “let’s look at a two, five or ten year vision of where we are going to be”? Some scenario planning, some goals, some strategy. It might just help even out the fluctuations and we might all be better off because of it…