In the university class I’m teaching (workplace writing for social enterprise), some of mystudents are developing business plans or turnaround plans. Students (and harried executives and perhaps also, ambitious founders) tend to rush toward action steps, milestones, and deliverables. But they’ll arrive faster if they start from a calm, reflective, tough-minded place of strategy.
When possible, I like to use quick, vivid analogies as reminders or frames when teaching—or rather, sharing—essential ideas. And this morning I remembered something I’d written about years ago, having recalled it from a totally ridiculous but (to me) hilarious movie.
So, from the Way Back Machine (blog post from Monday, March 02, 2009)
Recently for a modern music and dance nonprofit, ChangeMatters researched business and funding models of peer and more established (and famous) organizations in that particular genre. As part of that, I fiddled with one of the tools from David LaPiana’s new book, so we could compare and contrast structure. It helped the co-founder make some straightforward choices about immediate strategy.
That experience and some other work we’ve done with client-partners about strategy and strategic planning remind me of key “quick strategy” principles (leadership by sticky note):
1. What is the critical issue (or opportunity)?
2. What is your competitive advantage (most powerful strength)?
3. Lean on 2 to address 1. That’s your strategy.
Now, this afternoon, I was telling my mother, who directs a midwest regional organization of churchlady volunteers, about LaPiana’s idea. And she said, “Oh, like in The Three Amigos.” Immediately, I understood her point (because we like that movie). And I quote (from the excerpt as it appears on The Internet):
Ned Nederlander: This is not a town of weaklings! You can use your strengths against El Guapo. Now, what is it that this town really does well?
Townspeople: Hmmm. Hmmm? Ummm.
Mama Sanchez: We can sew!
P.S. Here’s the clip of how the town of Santa Poco carried out their strategy. And the results.