I play golf. I love golf. I would rather do very few things than play golf. There are also many things I have heard people say about golf and the people that play it – many misinformed things. Apparently, it is an elitist sport for the wealthy. My experience has been quite the opposite. Of course, my meager income also flies in the face of that theory. There is also nothing elitist about (most) of the people that I interact with at the golf club. But those are opinions. We can argue back and forth all week and never find common ground.
The point I want to get to is that golf is one of my strategic choices. Most of us have a vision of living a long and healthy life, with more moments of happiness and relaxation than sadness and stress. We make strategic choices about how to achieve this, consciously or otherwise. Some find their solace in religion. Others find peace and relaxation in front of the television. Some find true-life purpose in time spent with friends and family. Others find their true happiness once a week for a whole three days at the bottom of a bottle. A very lucky few (fewer than we are willing to admit) find the meaning of life and complete joy and fulfillment in the daily routines of their work. For health, some run, gym, cycle and engage in all manner of sweat inducing endeavours. Others simply raise their glasses/bottles and toast to a long and happy life – it is a two in one solution for health and happiness for these folks. There is also the category of people who just say “Life is too short. Enjoy it while it lasts. We will all be worm food, healthy or not”.
In truth, most of us find a little bit of joy in many of these categories and we enjoy some more than others. I enjoy golf. I have chosen golf because it helps me to disconnect from the world for a few hours. No mobile phone (I try), no laptop, nothing to worry about except competing and winning. It rejuvenates me and brings me back closer to my best self. At the same time, I exercise and spend time with friends and meet people that I would not meet in the course of an ordinary working day. Therefore, it is a choice about how I will achieve some level of happiness and health in my life.
Of course, in future, no one knows with certainty how the world will change. My need to have a greater income may force me to move to Iceland (a competing strategic choice). If you do not have sunshine and a respectable amount of grass, you cannot play golf. I may develop a back problem or a knee problem that prevents me from swinging a golf club. The owners of the golf club may decide they want to use the land for something else. A myriad of things could change in the world. I would be forced to make a different strategic choice. I would need to find other ways of achieving my happiness and health vision. If I was in cold and dreary Iceland, I might just have to join the “here’s to a long and healthy life” group.
Clearly, my vision stays the same. Whatever strategic choice I make remains guided by my vision for health and happiness. There is a cause and effect linkage between my choice of action and achievement of my vision and hopefully, that link is strong. There is also a clear link between my strategic choice and the world around me. In the moving-to-Iceland scenario, my physical environment changes, therefore I must adapt my strategy for achieving my vision.
Apple’s reality in Cupertino has changed. Donald Trump does not want to play nice with companies that he perceives to be exporting jobs. He would like companies like Apple to bring manufacturing jobs back from China to the USA. Apple may have to pay tariffs for phones it makes in China if it wants to sell them in America. Britain’s Easyjet suffered heavy revenue losses because of Brexit in 2016. Presumably, there will be even greater changes to its ability to operate in Europe once Brexit is finalised. Locally, SPEDU made all the newspaper headlines last year as the government took a decision to liquidate BCL mine. All these changes are external to the organisation, which may or may not have any influence in the decision or how it gets implemented. Will Apple change its vision of making great products and focusing on innovation? Probably not! Will it have to change its strategy? Possibly! It just depends on the specific effects of this change and what Apple and others in the technology sector can negotiate with the government. I would think the same would apply to EasyJet. SPEDU needs to intensify its efforts to diversify the region but I do not think anything changes fundamentally in its vision.
Those are major changes. Many other changes happen in the world. They happen almost imperceptibly. Millenials are slowly taking over the workplace and we have generation gaps. People trust Google more than they trust professors, senior managers or “experts”. Buying patterns change. So while we have a golf shop 5 minutes from where I live, I have never bought anything of significant value from it. I buy from South Africa or online from the USA. I choose to not be ripped off just because I live in a small city where there is no big market for golf equipment. Local availability of products and shipping cost are not justification enough to pay higher prices for golf equipment. I have found a way to enable my strategy at the least cost. Like me, all these changes in the world probably affect your organisation.
Should they change your organisation’s vision and your reason for existence? If it is well defined, most likely not. The point is there is no change proof strategy, no magic wand that will allow you to have the right answer in changing times. Strategy is not a hindsight game. It is about keeping your eyes firmly focused on the future while reacting to all that is happening around you. There is a lot that happens from the moment you have signed off your strategy. After all, the cliché goes, “the only constant is change”. It is clear that right now, America is in transition. Europe is in transition. All this will have a major impact on Africa and it will also need to shift position. Countries will either flourish or sink further. How will your organisation react?
If you keep your eye on your strategy, review it, check its cause and effect linkages regularly and are prepared to make choices every day (difficult or otherwise), your organisation is more likely to live a long, happy and healthy life. However, be warned, there are no guarantees! That is except, change will happen!
Tapiwa Mugore holds the position of Senior Consultant at InnoLead Consulting offering Management Consultancy and Corporate Training Solutions. He can be contacted on +267 3909102 and email@example.com