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It's the Strategy, Stupid!

[Originally published in Build Freedom News.]

by Tony Mueller, Business Analyst, Wellington, New Zealand

I would like to give you my opinion about some of your comments in your introduction letter. Powershift by Alvin Toffler: His view that the greatest command over information is now the key power factor is simply false. Indeed, there was a shift from the control of money to information some years or decades ago. However, unnoticed to many another powershift from information to strategy has occurred a few years ago. Consider there's a lot of information around. In fact, more than ever before. This actually causes a problem because too much information leads to confusion, indecision, stagnation and finally destruction.

Too much information means that our information age has produced too many conflicting pieces of information, too many things to be aware of, too many once-in-a-life-time opportunities. The individual person becomes easily overwhelmed by these large amounts of information and often conflicting ones, which in turn produce a mass of ideas and plans in his own head. One idea opposes the other and in the end little gets done or some halfhearted action may be taken which usually does not lead to success.

In the same letter you referred to the Bill Gates/Microsoft example. In my opinion Bill Gates is a typical example for the shift towards a strategic approach. He realized there was a problem for users dealing with PCs. He focused his effort and attention to overcome this obstacle and succeeded. In turn the market or better the target group rewarded his efforts generously.

This happened at a time when most of his competitors were and most of them are still focused to improve mainly the technical performance and aspects of PCs. The strategy in this case was to focus on the main obstacle from the viewpoint of his customers / target groups. Therefore Microsoft was able to achieve with comparatively little effort and resources more than its competitors at that time.

Unfortunately for Microsoft they are now abandoning their original strategy and are trying to please everyone, i.e., venturing into different business areas. This will slow down their progress, profitability and success and will allow their competitors to gain ground.

To summarize, the one who develops the best strategy for a market or any other situation will become the most powerful player.

Frederick Mann:

Over three thousand people have now read our introductory materials. Probably, several hundred thousand have read advertisements in which I mention Toffler's Powershift. Yet, Mr. Mueller is the first one to indicate that strategy is the key. This tells us that most people are blind to strategy. Our principals spend about 10 hours a week devising better strategies for all levels of our operation. If the success we've achieved so far can be ascribed to a single factor, it's almost certainly strategy. Yet, nowhere in our writings have we identified strategy as a key factor. Although we've "practiced strategy," we've been blind to strategy as a key skill everyone needs to develop.

How many "success books" identify the ability to strategize as a key success factor? How many people think every day about how they might improve their strategies? How many people obediently follow the strategies of others? How many people think for themselves?

There's a huge opportunity to teach strategy. It could be that the first topic the Personal Power Institutes (we've been talking about) should address is teaching strategy.

What is Strategy?

My Webster's defines strategy as:

The Elements of Meta-Strategy

Before describing strategy, we need to look at "meta-strategy." "Meta" means beyond or behind. We need a meta-strategy to improve our strategies:

The Elements of Strategy

The definition of strategy is "how to..." (whatever). Following is a partial list of areas where you could develop or improve your strategies:

If all the above seems a little overwhelming, you need a meta-strategy to start somewhere - and a meta-strategy to follow through! It should be worth your while to spend at least several hours a week on improving your strategies.

Freedom Technology

Freedom Technology consists of the practical knowledge methods, and skills to live free; the street-smart know-how to outwit the enemy at every turn; the means to defend yourself, your income, and assets; the means to blow away the bogus power of the enemy. Freedom Technology includes the creation of alternative voluntary institutions. Freedom Technology consists of the strategies, tactics, and logistics of practical freedom.

Comments on Strategy by James Robertson

Strategic planning is central to an efficiently designed personal and professional life, as well as to the nurturing and growth of organizations. In arranging their personal and professional lives, most people do not engage in strategic planning to any significant degree, or at all. Not all events in your life can be planned exactly, of course. In fact, in your life there is probably very little "exact certainty." Strategic planning, however, is what enables you to have a broad, flexible framework under which to operate. The exact details change from day to day; the broad structure(s) remain. We might term this "operating strategy."

A level up from this comes what we might term "general strategy" or "overall strategy." This can and should be reviewed periodically, and adjusted or changed as necessary. This applies to both individuals and organizations.

Minor daily tactical details should impede neither an individual's nor an organization's primary strategies. What happens tactically, and the relative ease or difficulty of various tactics, often influences strategic revisions at the various times you review strategy.

In organizations, blind obedience hinders strategic thinking. Nonetheless, not all personnel inside organizations need to engage in strategic thinking all of the time. Inside an organization, personnel probably operate most efficiently when given the basic framework within which to operate ("general" or "overall" strategy has been decided by others). Then, personnel are afforded an environment in which to thrive because many aspects of operational strategy can be handled by each individual. Certainly mutual review and mutual assistance are frequently needed; but many aspects of operational strategy - and most aspects of precise tactical detail - can be handled by each individual.

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