A lot of stuff you think is strategic — well, it’s not actually that strategic

Ted Bauer
3 min readJun 23, 2022

It’s going to take me 2–3 minutes to lay this all out, so let’s get going.

Problem 1: “Strategy” usually isn’t actually “strategy.” When people in charge use the term “strategy,” they are usually referring to “operations” or “logistics.”

Problem 2: “Strategy” must be aligned with “execution.” Let’s say the decision-makers at a company decide on a new strategy. OK. Great for them. But here’s the problem: Peggy in Operations had some stuff she was working on Tuesday and Wednesday, right? So even if the executives hold an “all-hands meeting” and say “This is our amazing new strategy,” well, Peggy still has this stuff on her desk. See Peggy’s issue? There’s no alignment between the buzzword-laden strategy and what people think they are supposed to do all day. “Strategy,” such as it is, needs to be aligned with “execution.”

Problem 3: “Strategy” is usually viewed as intractable. But customer needs and market conditions change constantly, especially with tech. Nothing infuriates me more than “a strategic road map.” It’s all well and good to have one. It might even help guide you. But for so many companies, that’s an 18-month document that cannot change without every middle manager going absolutely bonkers. (In other words, it doesn’t change because eventually no one wants to deal with the drama.) Here’s the best analogy I can come up with: if you are driving from New York to Philly, you have a road map. But if a truck overturns on 95, maybe you go surface roads. Things happen. Road maps need to adjust.

Problem 4: “Strategy” isn’t communicated. Most of your employees are unclear on it.

Problem 5: “Strategy” needs to come from customer needs, but the people who set it are furthest from the customer. Usually 9–14 levels from the customer.

So what’s the overall “strategic” picture here?

It often looks something like this:

  • Executives create a strategy in a vacuum, often with the aid of consultants
  • That strategy isn’t clearly communicated
  • For a long time, it doesn’t even change daily workflows — so people are often doing things not in line with…

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Ted Bauer

Mostly write about work, leadership, friendship, masculinity, male infertility, and some other stuff along the way. It's a pleasure to be here.