Strategy confuses people, because it’s not something you can touch. For a lot of businesses, “strategy” sits in a binder somewhere until the calendar notification comes up to do a new one. The binder makes it tangible, a real thing you can point to. Maybe occasionally in a meeting someone even says “Is this on strategy?”
But you know how the rest of that meeting goes. Everyone makes noises about how on-strategy or not the project is. Most if not all of them last saw the strategy the day it was published, if ever.
I call this “binder strategy”. Binder strategy is a company-wide disease, and you must eradicate it.
How do you know if you have “binder strategy”?
You have binder strategy if:
- You ask 10 people in your organization why you exist, and get 10 different answers.
- You ask 10 customers the same question and get 10 different answers. (Bonus points if your customers incorrectly identify your industry or main product line.)
- You can’t remember the main points of your strategy.
- You never knew the main points of your strategy because it’s over 100 pages of dense text and who has time for that.
- Actually, if your strategy is more than five pages long.
- This is the first time you’ve considered your strategy in over a month.
If you have binder strategy, I’m going to propose something a little crazy.
Throw your strategy in the garbage.
You aren’t living your strategy. Your employees aren’t living your strategy. You care about it so little, in fact, that it’s collecting dust in a corner of your office or a folder on your computer.
Binder strategy is fatal. Maybe not today, or a year from now, but your company is slowly dying of neglect. This is not me being dramatic. Your strategy is the captain of the ship, and if it’s locked up in a box somewhere, you are going to hit an iceberg eventually.
Don’t let the door hit its…you know.
You have absolutely zero to lose, except maybe the binder. Okay, donate the binder to a program for underprivileged kids’ school supplies. Problem solved.
Uh, so, what now?
We’ll get to that. Watch for the next Yes That Jill Guide.
Rest assured, you don’t need a backup plan just yet. The first step is knowing you have a problem, and ruthlessly throwing that problem in the garbage, then setting the garbage can on fire. I’ll help you work out what to do once it’s gone in the coming weeks.