In a recent workshop I conducted, one participant asked this question, “Must we view everything in a strategic manner? Is there an instance when we can be too strategic such that we miss the bread and butter issues?” This is a brilliant question that requires some discussion.
Must we view everything strategically?
I suppose the operative word here is MUST, and if that were the case, the answer is no. We are not compelled to do one thing or another, and if we never see anything in a strategic manner, then we might well be happy-go-lucky, and take things as they come. By not seeing things strategically, we don’t look to the future, plan for the future, and live for the future. I am sure you know of people who are precisely like this, and have lived their life accordingly. I am not so sure they are at the apex of the pecking order, but they may well be content. Yet, if you want development, you want growth, you have aspirations, then you would have to be strategic at some point in your life.
What should we be strategic about?
The next important word we need to look at is EVERYTHING – do we need to view everything strategically? Assuming that you want to be strategic, then you would have to apply strategic thinking on things that matter. Not everything, otherwise we will be locked in hypotheses testing throughout our lives. But things that warrant strategic thinking require that you spend the ordinate amount of time on it. What are those things, what makes something strategic or not? At AITC, we have developed a simple test; if an issue impacts more than one person or one group of people, AND if the issue has a high opportunity cost, AND if it has a future impact, then, the issue is strategic and you need to think about it strategically. Notice the AND operation here. If a situation affects the whole family and has a future impact, yet the opportunity cost is low, then, it is not a strategic matter and you can go about making a decision quickly. For example, a friend of mine who is of extreme means, and who had already owned 6 cars, didn’t have to apply strategic thinking when he chanced upon a Ferrari, and bought it immediately. Why? Because for him, the opportunity cost was low. For us, it would be an agonizing decision, thinking of all the different ways we can spend $1.5million.
Can we be too strategic and miss the bread-and-butter issues?
The straight answer is yes. But the not-so-straight answer is that without having a future focus, without finding the right way to achieve our intent, without reframing the way we think so that we can come to the right decision, then your everyday bread-and-butter issues may be leading you AWAY from your intent, not closer to it. Hence there is a need to look both far and near, both for tomorrow and today, and to align what we are doing today, with what we intend to achieve tomorrow. Otherwise, we might be busy saving today, so much so, when we look up, we find ourselves right back where we started yesterday!
There must therefore be a balance between the operational requirements of today, with the future intents of tomorrow.