Ready, Aim, Shoot!

Aug 1, 2012

It is perplexing to see executives and business writers continue to confuse objectives with strategies. And strategies with execution. 

A business blogger recently was debating the age-old question of which is more important, good strategy or good execution? He said some executives say things like, “Our strategy is to maximize customer value.” And others, “Our strategy is to become the market leader.”

The writer called both “lofty and self-evident.” Forget his efforts to measure the importance between strategy and execution. Let’s just deal with those two comments that he shrugged off. First of all, planning to maximize customer value is, indeed, a perfectly plausible strategy.

Obviously, first it demands a trustworthy definition of customer value. You’ll have to know what customers really value. Next is a specific list of tactics to be used to maximize customer value.

The other statement, however, “Our strategy is to become the market leader,” is not a strategy at all. It’s an objective. For instance you might achieve the objective of being the market leader by employing a strategy of maximizing customer value.

Words, and what each means, are still the only way we have to connect with each other in business.

If you don’t know the clear difference between an objective and a strategy, you’re in just terrible trouble.

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