“The question that faces the strategic decision maker is not ‘what his organization should do tomorrow.’ It is, ‘what do we have to do today to be ready for an uncertain tomorrow’?” — Peter Drucker

 This quote is right-on. Without writing a New Yorker-length article, 6 things:

1) Question. Leaders are in the “ask the right question” business. Too much complexity, span, and scope for 1 person to handle – no matter how good you think your are. Another oldie-goldie quote from Drucker, “My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.”

2) Decision maker. Executives are entirely in the decision-making business. Think of the titans of industry – Carnegie, Welch, Musk, Morgan, Jobs, Kelleher, Turner, Musk, Bezos. Decision makers.

As inclusive as we want to / feel we need to be – let’s not pretend that it will be rainbows and ponies, consensus all the time. There is a time for democracy mode, and dictator mode.

Bain & Company does a lot of work on this topic.  Common sense says that if your group consistently 1) asks the right questions 2) empowers the right person to make the decision 3) decides quickly 4) sees those decisions implemented. . . you will beat the market.  Absolutely, I believe this.

An army’s success depends at least as much on the quality of the decisions its officers and soldiers make and execute on the ground as it does on actual fighting power. – Bain & Company

3) Not. Love this word.  Strategy is as much what you decide NOT to do. Strategy involves trade-offs, opportunity cost. No more FOMO.

4) Should Do Tomorrow. So easy for MBA-types like myself to get overly intellectual and plan / model something out. Even though 80% of restaurants fail within 5 years, I am sure the business plan for each one of them looked great. Every plan looks good on excel, right?  Growing at 5-10% a year with flat COGS, declining SG&A, great employee retention . . . yeah, right.

5) Do Today. Huge bias for action here. It’s already 10am EST, what am I going to do TODAY (not tomorrow)? Can’t buy more time, right?

6) Be Ready for an Uncertain Tomorrow.  Okay, let’s pause here and reflect on the fact that Drucker wrote this in 1974 in Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices (affiliate link)

Easy for us to think that we live in the most uncertain times with global competitors, limitless data, and savvy customers. Nope, always been this way. Inflation in 1974 was 10%.

He also commented that strategic planning “does not deal with future decisions, it deals with the futurity of present decisions.”  BOOM

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