Strategy is Not Just copying

We all have role models, and we all learn from the successes of others. At the same time,  We also know that simply copying what other people do is not the secret to successful strategy. Why not?

The answer is simple. Other people — and on the larger scale — other organizations, are able to do things based on their capacities and in their context. Unless ours are the same or better, copying what they do will not lead to good results.

Digital Tonto has a nice post on this.

So what does work? Strategies build from capacity and context. Put another way, the question we are most interested in is how we can use the resources that we can access to win. That opens the door to lots of other questions — and the answers to each one affects the overall strategic idea.

Donald Trump and Political Rhetoric

Donald Trump has defied the odds and won the race to the US presidency. His victory can be explained in any number of ways. But there is one in particular that interests me.

During the campaign, Trump was proven again and again to be full of hot air. His positions on a variety of issues made no sense at all. Worse still, he insulted people. And for these reasons, many very smart people did not take him seriously as a candidate. A major theme of the Clinton camp was that he is “not fit for the office”. But somehow — despite all of his peccadilloes — Trump connected with core voter groups.  In other words, the connection had to overcome a lot of negatives. It had to be powerful.

Where did that power come from? The answer is that no one else was speaking to the folks who fell for Trump. Trump filled a vacuum. And because there was no alternative, folks held their noses and rewarded him.


Which brings me to a basic point about social dialogue. We are often oblivious to situations where we encounter or create a vacuum. The domineering boss, for example, appears to be powerful. And yet, there is a vacuum around him or her.  That may be no problem if the boss “has all the answers”. But it is a major problem if the firm needs creative solutions from the bottom up. And we are learning that the rate of social learning directly correlates with the rate of learning and sharing from the bottom up.

Dave Meslin talks about this in terms of “barriers to engagement”. His point can be reduced to a basic principle. No one wants to be apathetic. But we become that way when we feel excluded from meaningful dialogue. And once we turn off and tune out, we are easily distracted and manipulated by folks promising to include us. It matters not whether their ideas are retarded. It matters a lot that they offer connection when there was none before.  That becomes a barrier to social learning.

So is a social vacuum a symptom of a broken social dialogue?

Stay tuned.

Trump is a Wake Up Call on Social Dialogue

This US presidential election cycle has been unique in many ways. One of them has been the rhetorical tactics of Donald Trump.

Like it or not, one has to admit that Trump has found an audience. While his comments are often divisive and even devoid of logic, certain voters gravitate to him because of the way he speaks to them.

How does this work? How could it be that voters connect with this type of messaging? The answer may be simpler than it appears on the surface.  From BI

Research has shown that since the 1960s, the length of the average news sound bite has shrunk from more than 40 seconds long to about eight or nine seconds. Much of the extra time is now devoted to punditry and analysis of short clips,

Trump exploits this by using divisive nicknames and very simple calls to action. It matters not whether the message is superficial or even nonsense. It breaks through in the 9 second attention span.

That tells us something about ourselves. If we continue down this road, we may find that social discourse becomes more and more difficult. That is sobering.

If this is the problem, what is the solution? What can we do to provide incentives to develop smarter discourse?

Good question. Stay tuned on that one.