Silicon Valley State of Mind, a blog by John Weathington, "The Science of Success"
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    Welcome to a Silicon Valley State of Mind, thoughts tips and advice based on the consulting work of John Weathington, "Silicon Valley's Top Information Strategist."

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Silicon Valley State of Mind

Tips, thoughts, and advice based on the consulting work of John Weathington, "The Science of Success."

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Posted by on in Strategy

Ebay announced earlier this week that it was shutting down the sale of metaphysical goods and services on its site, including psychic readings, potions, spells, and fortune telling. They should have also included some strategy formulation in this category. When you hire big consulting firms to build fancy strategies for you, are you buying a real vision, or a very expensive love potion?

In addition to information strategy formulation, I deal with all strategy execution, so I clean up these messes all the time. A small army of nicely-dressed consultants brandishing impressive credentials and expensive pens swoop in to patronize your company with an “environmental analysis,” then proceed to pontificate through glimmering, buzzword-ridden PowerPoint about the latest management theories coming out of Harvard. Then, with one of their hands shaking your hand, and the other holding your big check, they’re out the door to repeat the process with your competitors. That’s about the time you call me to ask, “John, how do we make this work now?”

Thanks a lot.

When I step into a situation like this, I don’t automatically look for problems with the strategy; however, it must be vetted. That’ doesn’t mean I correct their paper, it just means that to mobilize a strategy, certain things must be in place.

Strategy execution is very different from project or program execution. With program execution, you execute tasks to complete a relatively short-term objective. With strategy execution you monitor assumptions and consider possibilities and alternatives to move toward a relatively long-term vision. So, to vet a strategy, you must document and support your assumptions about the future. Until you do this, there’s no way to responsibly mobilize your strategy.

Unfortunately, in going through this process, you often see the big-strategy spell dissipate. It’s a painful realization; however, it’s better than spending the next three to five years committing resources to a strategy that won’t work.

Although the sale of metaphysical services has been part of Ebay since its inception, they finally decided to pull the plug, because customer service is tired of people complaining that their $20 love potion didn’t work. Who are you going to call when your $250,000 love potion doesn’t work?

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