Designing Strategies: The Blog
“It’s not that they can’t see the solution, it’s that they can’t see the problem.”
–G.K. Chesterton Scandal of Father Brown (1935)
As far back as 1935, English author and essayist, G. K. Chesterton realized that many people had more difficulty recognizing their problems and challenges than in finding solutions for them. Many entrepreneurs and business leaders continue to have this shortcoming decades later in what we refer to as our modern world. Makes you wonder just how far we’ve come during that seven and a half decades, doesn’t it?
Too many entrepreneurs jump into the business world with nothing more than an idea fueled by their own passion. Envisioning wild success, they take their hot new idea for a product or service and just ‘go into business’, by-passing the need for upfront research and planning. It is that missing planning phase that puts the business and its necessary components into perspective based on logic and analysis. That plan is what will strategically move the company forward toward success. That plan can eliminate the need to juggle a variety of unforseen problems coming from all directions during the early phases of a start up company.
Without that necessary analytical approach to planning for success, everything tends to be done on the run, moving forward — with any luck — but, in a haphazard manner. Instead of the business moving forward with focus and direction, chaos prevails. Leadership spends unnecessary time putting out fires that get in the way of their ability to work on the structure and infrastructure of the firm.
Without the necessary time to focus on the mechanics of the business, chaos will become the culture of the firm. Order and a clear path toward their original vision are missing. Policies, systems and procedures are not designed to keep work flowing smoothly toward the owner’s vision. The corporate culture is unable to develop in a manner where all of the company’s stakeholders are able to work together to achieve successful results and a reasonable profit margin.
Without being able to clearly see and analyze potential problem, it is highly unlikely that appropriate strategic solutions will be developed to get the firm on track. Successful railroads lay tracks between multiple points, in the most logical and cost effective directions. Only then is the train put on the track to move easily between destinations. If mountains are in the way, the track is taken either around them or through them, which ever provides the best solution. If bodies of water are in the way, bridges are build to go over or around them. Analyzing the situations and all related challenges up front allows for developing solutions before setting off on a journey. Take the time necessary to review potential problems before they become barriers to your success.
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Every Wednesday, I anticipate receiving the ‘Marketing Minute’ newsletter written by Marcia Yudkin, a respected marketing expert located in Massachusetts. Her newsletters are routinely full of quality content, are short and to the point. A recent article, graciously shared below, carries a strong branding message that we should all pay attention to: develop your brand, then stick to it. Remember who you are and what you set out to do. Avoid temptations to deviate from your set direction.
“A lot of customers came to the bar. If one out of ten
enjoyed the place and said he’d come again, that was enough.
If one out of ten was a repeat customer, the business would
survive. To put it the other way, it didn’t matter if nine
out of ten didn’t like my bar. This realization lifted a
weight off my shoulders.
“Still, I had to make sure that the one person who did like
the place REALLY liked it. In order to make sure he did, I
had to make my philosophy and stance clear-cut, and
patiently maintain that stance no matter what.”
So writes Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite novelists,
about what he learned owning a jazz club in Tokyo for
A few things follow from his brilliant insight:
* Don’t be bland. Take a stand. Help folks understand
what they’ll experience differently doing business with you.
* Let the 90 percent drift away. Serve your 10 percent to
the best of your ability.
* When you hear criticism about what you’re not, smile.
Reprinted with permission from the Marketing Minute. Subscribe at
There will be customers who love you, what you do and the value you bring to them. There will be others that simply are not a good match for you, your products or services. Cater to the group that loves and appreciates you and what you bring to the table. Decide which from the other group might be convinced and converted. Let the rest go — they are not your customers. They don’t appreciate what you offer and are not a good fit for your brand.