So many dudes in charge of “strategy” have no clue what “strategy” even is

Here’s a new article where, seemingly, some Australian consultant gets a bunch of top dogs (execs) in a room and asks: “What is your broader strategy?” They go off and write it down. And — drum roll — here are the results:

The results are always astonishing to me and them. Here are some of the responses from the list I received at my most recent session: actions (“launch a new service”; “review our suitability to the retirement business”); activities (“marketing our products through the right channels”); objectives (“achieve $100m net revenue”) and broad descriptions of what goes on (“planning process from beginning to end of product”; “working for your stakeholders”).

I literally ROFL’ed at this. “Marketing our products through the right channels?” Good Lord. These guys are making maybe half a million per year and that’s what they come up with? I would probably punch the guy in the face who said “achieve $100M net revenue.” You know he’s a total KPI-gagger who probably last complimented his wife in 1987. Sad but true fact: if you care that much about achieving $100M net and haven’t done it yet, you’re not very good at your job.

“Strategy” has admittedly been a buzzword for years now, so maybe we should stop and ask: why?

Why is strategy a buzzword?

No one really knows what it means, plain and simple.

To most people it’s confused with:

  • Logistics
  • Operations
  • Tactics
  • Objectives

In the simplest terms, “achieve $100M revenue” cannot be “a strategy.” That’s an end goal. That’s where you want to arrive at. How is the action of making a bunch of money strategic? It’s not, but money is so prevalent in the minds of guys who set “strategies” that as long as you reference a monetary number, it’s gotta be “strategic,” right?

Also: it’s a huge myth that work is even about “strategic productivity.” Work is about these things:

  • Be relevant
  • Be respected
  • Come off as busy and important
  • Make money

That’s it. No one really wants to be “productive,” and that’s especially true of senior executives. They want people to deep throat their ideas and supposed “strategic plans.” That’s the game.

If you don’t understand that, you’re delusional.

It’s very hard for me to see stats like “95% of a company does not understand the strategy of said company” or “67% of SVPs cannot name the priorities of the CEO”and think any company is strategic. Feels like everyone out there making money off sheer serendipity.

Your take?