Tall Grass

Published May 06, 2019

My current topic of the week is strategic intent. This is the summary from a case study I’m currently processing:

Western companies trim ambitions to match resources. Japanese companies leverage resources to accelerate the pace of organizational learning to attain seemingly impossible goals.

Teach me the stories of Japan, Harvest Business Review.

Competing Viewpoints

After reading “Strategic Intent,”1, I am noting HBR wants me to:

This is unfamiliar territory because my own experience with hustle culture can be summarized to a list of values like so:

These two data-sets run up against another set in recent tech buzz:

The general topics are: competitors, information sharing, and goal-setting. Somewhere in here I have to find the boundaries of my own playbook.

Wading Through Tall Grass

There are so many stories of success and no one can say with certainty what is worth paying attention to. We identify common patterns and even then, research on leadership and business strategy is in its infancy.

We also can’t use the past to predict the future because the future is born in everyone’s blindspot. That’s what the whole disruption thing is about.

No one likes a centrist but I am guilty of being one.


We will never know what competitors will do nor who will become one. We can’t be faster than people we can’t see and to identify what’s missing, you need to know what’s there. Scale also buys power (and efficiency) so even in lifestyle businesses, it’s worth taking a peek.

The centrist voice says,

Find out what others are doing so you don’t fall into the same holes. Pay attention to anyone else who is also interested in the same holes.

Information Sharing

Some people are intrinsically motivated if you’ve hired correctly. You won’t make all the right hiring decisions though and you will end up with people you have to push. You also have information you need to spread around so they can do their jobs.

The centrist voice says,

Intrisically motivated employees will find their own way. Encourage the other ones. Feed both enough information to do their jobs but not so much to leave them in states of arrest.


Top-down management and leadership plans have been shown to occasionally thwart innovation through blind compliance. Also, setting a goal about revenue is obvious: every company’s goal is revenue. Value is not synonymous with money.

The centrist voice says,

Teach goal-setting habits through example by setting valuable KPIs outside of revenue. If they (personally) define success in a different way, find the link between their goals and the organization’s goals.

This past week I’ve refined my playbook to look something like this:

You-Will-Likely-Be-Wrong-At-Some-Point Strategy
  1. Use competitors' to avoid common pitfalls
  2. Encourage organizational sharing
  3. Teach goal-setting habits

I think that just about covers it.

1 Hamel, Gary. Parhalad, C.K.. "Strategic Intent." Harvest Business Review, Jul. 2005, hbr.org.