At some point in the not-too-distant past it felt like everyone’s bosses got an invite to the same meeting and came back spouting the same set of business platitudes and clichés.
“Failing to plan is the same as planning to fail”
Suddenly we found ourselves sitting in meetings where we were told that ‘paradigm shifting’ of this nature meant ‘breaking down silos’. We apparently all needed ‘quick wins’ but then discovered everyone had ‘bandwidth issues’.
Everything almost overnight became Strategic too. We had to become more Strategic. Be Strategic, think Strategically, have Strategic Partnerships, hire Strategically. No one knew what it actually meant in reality, but perhaps by repeating it enough, it would happen. Whatever it was. Just by repeating the words countless times during the day in meetings and emails, managers the world over seemed to feel better about themselves.
The irony of course was, and is, that the use of the word and the application are inversely proportionate. Those who seem to pull the word Strategic out at every given opportunity are the least likely to apply any Strategic Thinking to anything.
“What does it actually mean for us?” I asked one Management Consultant who had, by my reckoning chalked up his 12th use of the word Strategy, in the first 3 minutes of the meeting.
He looked quizzically at me. “What does what mean for us?” he replied now starting to bite his bottom lip whilst playing with his pen.
“We hear Strategy a lot. Apparently we are in short supply of it around here, so how are we to become more Strategic?” I ventured further.
I had to interrupt him several times and ask that he try and explain this without using the word Strategy to describe what a Strategy was.
I reckon that day we had 15 people in that meeting actively nodding in unison every time Strategic was thrown into the presentation. I believe if I was to ask each one for a definition I would have had 15 different answers.
Words matter and we all become better, and better respect the talents of everyone on the teams we work with through more precise and careful use of words like strategic.
Back then and now its become bloated and overused. Its frequently used wrongly, and because someone says they are strategic, does not make it so.
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