Archive for October, 2012
Following up on my recent Strategy 101 post, I’d like to explore some of the key elements of my Natural Strategy method. I’ll do this over time, one topic at a time. Today, I’d like to talk about the importance of having a clear sense of mission.
To start our discussion, let me ask an at-once simple and not-so-simple question: are you on a mission? If you are trying to maximize your personal potential, or your organization’s, understanding the overall importance of mission and your own specific mission is critical to optimal success.
Why? Because, like many aspects of strategy-making, missions open and close doors, giving us added focus and increased natural power through this focus. Missions say what we will do, and therefore what we will not do. And if well-considered, missions give us power not just through focus, but also through new motivation – by tapping into emotions and values that are important and elevating to us.
Defining Our Mission
Since the idea or meaning of a mission can vary, it’s worth spending a moment to clarify how I am using this important word.
We often hear people talk about themselves, or another person or organization, as being on a mission. Often, this means having a focus on a specific goal or outcome with a special passion or commitment. For me, this is mission with a small “m,” a definition that is essentially synonymous with being goal-directed.
It will be helpful if I spend a minute to define what strategy is, explain why it is important and even central to successful modern life, and illustrate how strategies and strategy-making at all levels can be done simply and optimally.
That should make for a pretty good post, don’t you think?
First, a definition of strategy. I went to Wikipedia to see our collective wisdom on this topic. What’s there is technically correct, but also kind of blah-blah. For me, this way of thinking about strategy reflects and reinforces the idea that strategy-making is high and dry, dull and difficult. It needlessly turns people away from the crucial topic of strategy and not toward it. Both are enormous and costly mistakes for us all!
In fact, strategy is interesting and creative, inspiring and heartfelt, at least when it is done right or thought about correctly. And when we get strategy right, it is powerful and usually transformative, remaking the quality of our lives and enterprises. To proceed without a good strategy is to resign ourselves to results often far below our potential, and yet most people and many organizations today operate without a clear or optimal strategy.