Skiing is like navigating strategy.
It’s end of quarter. And I’m going through quarterly strategic planning with most of the CEOs I’m working with.
And as it’s nearing the end of an annually shorter ski season (thank you fossil fuels et al), I was just thinking about a principle I had to learn the hard way from the slopes.
You’re getting to the lower reaches of the piste. And you start to get mud or grass patches. Especially if you’re crossing a narrow pass or a bridge, where there may be at least as much mud as there is snow.
But you can’t go into those patches. You’ll grind to a juddering halt. Be thrown off your skis (or my board in my case – much worse). Or even go over them and destroy the edge and base of your skis.
What’s the worst thing to do?
Keep looking at the mud patches. Focus on them relentlessly. Keep your eyes on them and them alone.
Absolute guarantee that you’ll end up off your board with a twisted knee.
Instead, you keep your focus on where you’re going, while being conscious of your immediate vicinity. You don’t make what you want to avoid so much at the core of your focus that you make it a certainty to go there.
Same with strategy and purpose. Clarity of where we’re headed – of the vision, of the overall strategy – and continual focus on it, while navigating and adjusting on the parts in our immediate vicinity.
Especially so with recessions or dips. If all we do is focus on the recession, it will take us down. It’s the ultimate brown patch in the snow. Sure – we need to be prepared for it, and nimble enough to navigate through it. But if we lose sight of where we’re headed, it will take us down.
Which is why the quarterly plans start with a view over vision and purpose. What are we building? Where do we want to go? And whatever we have in our way right now – whether it’s a recession, or a client at risk, or key leavers – how do we ensure that while we navigate it, we continue to build to our vision?
We need to make sure to keep our eye on destination while navigating the brown patches.
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