The toughest part of business strategy is choice.
We live in a fantastically privileged time and I live in a fantastically privileged place. When thinking about taking a journey with my family, I am rarely, if ever, really constrained by my capacity to carry things along with me. A large SUV and a few containers and attachments that my family of six has accumulated over the years have made sure of that.
But, those who take serious journeys in the real world know what it’s like to deal with constraints on a journey. On a hike of hundreds of miles that might cover tens of thousands of feet of elevation change, the difference between carrying a 5-pound sleeping bag and a 2-pound one can be the difference between a comfortable hike and terminal fatigue or injurious fall.
In other words, how we deal with the constraints around us can be defining, and if we aren’t careful, we can become numb to the fact that constraints do still exist.
Your business will be defined by choices. Those choices might be purposeful, or they might be passive. Still, you will make choices. Those choices will come in the form of positive choices about “what we will do,” and negative choices about “what we will not do.”
Positive choices are a call to action. They point the way.
Negative choices are a call to create capacity. They explain how we will create focus.
But, if we aren’t careful, we can become numb. We can let profitability (which is like a large SUV…it allows you to carry many things) mask overburden or distraction, and those things can crush us when the economy turns. We make many positive choices, and we avoid the negative choices. We decide not to decide on what to leave behind. Because, well, that’s hard.
And, there’s risk in that. Because, like in the hike I outlined above, a failure to make choices on what to leave behind can be the difference between a comfortable success and a painful failure.
Those choices might be about which customers to fire.
Or markets to exit.
Or assets to shed.
Or meetings to cancel.
Or products to eliminate.
What you leave behind can be as defining to your strategy, and your well being, as what you take with you. Don’t forget it. The journey is long. Pack for it the right way.