Strategy Thinking

Strategy Thinking:

(Click for Audio) If you want to achieve something, anything, you probably have a goal in mind. You know what it looks like to accomplish the goal. Right? Probably.

Imagine you have a goal of winning a specific job, or buying a house, or achieving financial success. Got it pictured? Looks pretty good doesn’t it!

Okay…. How do you get there?

We develop plans, but we all know the “…best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Perhaps before we enact a “plan” we should develop a strategy.

What is your strategy to win the goal? It may include multiple steps along the way, with smaller plans to accomplish each step. It may be like a puzzle you build with others helping you to achieve each micro-step. Possibly, it even includes the idea that you spend a certain amount of time preparing for a step, and then the step gets taken quickly.

It all depends on your goal. Perhaps even your vision and mission in life should be analyzed before you strategize. After all, why buy a house to live in if your plans are to be a gypsy living on the road?

We need to learn to strategize, and we often learn it through experience, both good and bad.

When I moved to Alaska in 1980, some guys on the job asked me to play a lunch time game called Diplomacy – a WWI strategy game where you learned how to build, foster and destroy relationships, while attempting to win all of Europe. [Read my experience here] I was a horrible failure. These new co-workers took advantage of the new kid on the block. I never played with them again, and they had to earn my trust every time we met for business! Just kidding.

Through the years I’ve worked on large projects, in large and small companies, and it seemed like we all had the idea of developing a strategy to reach success. A road map is a good analogy where you start from a beginning point, aim at the destination, and then follow the instructions to move along the route.

But we all understand there are many paths to get from Point A to Point B. That’s the good thing about strategies. They are not the plans we use to move along the route, rather, they are the overarching thoughts on how we move along the route, what we do when we hit a roadblock, do we take extra supplies or buy them along the way, how much will it cost and where does the money come from, how many people will we need or be responsible for, will we cross boundaries that require special licensing or permits, what type of vehicle is best suited for the journey…. You get the idea. That’s strategy.

A few weeks ago I touched on this in another blog post I called “The System of Options” when modern warfare changed from a commander being in direct line of sight for each battle, and instead sent out a global strategy (option) and put the pieces into play to bring about success. Each piece knew the strategy and operated independently to obtain the objective. It was these strategies that were developed in the 1800’s that played a large part in how war was conducted in the 1900’s. Hence, the Diplomacy game previously mentioned.

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ~George Santayana [Source]

Perhaps, then, a good Strategy in life is to learn from the mistakes of our past so that they are not duplicated in our future! On project work we often had a Lessons Learned meeting and subsequent documentation that helped us know what went good, what went bad, and what should we learn from the lessons.

In the Old Testament, we read of a nation that seemed to ride the roller coaster of life. Up and down, up and down. One generation, they are up and following God like they were intended to do, and then something would happen, a new thinker or leader would come along, and suddenly they are plummeting to the bottom where they are least like the God they served and loved just a generation ago.

Sort of sounds like something in modern times.

But we find an example of the son of one of these leaders going into the valley who steps into the leadership cycle and has authority to enact change. He’s not willing to do things the way his father had done. His goal is to cycle the roller coaster back up the hill to get closer to God.

Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done. (2 Chronicles 29:1-2 NKJV)

Now. David was not his immediate predecessor. David was several generations back, but he was the one that was most like God’s heart (Acts 13:22). Was David perfect? No. None are perfect, even though there are times we are walking perfect. For a season. Listen to the mind and words of David has he defines his strategy:

God is my strength and power, And He makes my way perfect.  (2 Samuel 22:33 NKJV)

In the way he walked, talked and lived, David understood that his strength was not in his own ability. Rather, it was in God’s way. When he challenged Goliath to battle he notes that it was not within his own ability to secure the win, but rather that the enemy had challenged his God. Again, his strategy was not in his own ability.

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.”  (1 Samuel 17:45-47 NKJV)

Strategy. Not of his own ability, but of God’s will.

Go back to Hezekiah for a moment. This was the imagery he had when he noted that David was his image of kingship that he wanted to follow. For the remainder of this chapter you will find how Hezekiah, though young, commanded a change to the leaders and people of his country and moved them back up the hill. His strategy was to cleanse and sanctify their hearts and hearths, work and church, home and play, and rekindle that relationship that went missing under his father’s leadership.

But note that the change happened quickly. His strategy to turn the nation went fast.

Also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings and with the drink offerings for every burnt offering. So the service of the house of the LORD was set in order. Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced that God had prepared the people, since the events took place so suddenly. (2 Chronicles 29:35-36 NKJV)

Sometimes, our strategies, plans, objectives and goals seem like they will eventually get us to a particular point. We may be happy with thinking retirement in some far off future place and time, but the strategy to prepare for it must be started young, consistently followed, and someday enjoyed. It’s a long road to retirement… Except, we must remember to keep God in the picture. With Him, things can happen suddenly!