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Ready, Aim, Shoot!

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.

To reach Mr. Malmo, hear and read more of his commentaries, or to ask him your own marketing question, go to http://askmalmo.com.

My mother introduced me to WKNO-FM and public radio long before I can remember. I suppose the first thing I really recall about WKNO-FM is that every afternoon, when my mother picked me up from school, the radio was tuned-in to The World, then All Things Considered, probably beginning around age 8. The way these reporters and hosts took you from the comfort of your mom's van to wherever in the world they were reporting from absolutely fascinated me. From then on, I was officially hooked.