Power, Inertia And Entropy

As it’s the start of 2015, I’m mulling on what to aim for professionally this year (and thereafter), so I’m quite susceptible to articles on this topic. Whilst there’s no easy answer, getting others’ views is often handy even if it’s only to prompt a questioning of my current viewpoints.

Recently from Seth Godin:

A tactic might feel fun, or the next thing to do, or a lot like what your competition is doing. But a tactic by itself is nothing much worth doing. If it supports a strategy, a longer-term plan that builds on itself and generates leverage, that’s far more powerful. But a strategy without a goal is wasted.

In this context, I quite liked this quote (which pre-assumes you have a clear and challenging goal):

“Yes is the destination, No is how you get there.” – Andrea Waltz

The problem is that tactics and delivery are comparatively easy and give the immediate impression of progress being made whilst developing good strategy is really hard and because of this is often effectively ‘avoided’.

From an earlier post on this topic (A Cascade Of Outcomes):

Good strategy is rare. Many organizations which claim to have a strategy do not. Instead, they have a set of performance goals. Or, worse, a set of vague aspirations. It is rare because there are strong forces resisting the concentration of action and resources. Good strategy gathers power from its very rareness.

Competitors do not always respond quickly, nor do customers always see the value of an offering. Good strategy anticipates and exploits inertia.

Organizations experience significant entropy—the continual drift towards disorganization. Much of the useful work of managers and consultants is maintenance—the constant battle against entropy. Strategists must battle this never-ending drift towards disarray within their own organization. And they must try to exploit the disarray of their rivals.

These aspects apply to small businesses just as much as to large ones.


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