I have a framed copy of this letter from Nov 15 1876 hanging in my office. It reminds me that sometimes having a long career and reaching senior positions in a large company, or expert status in an industry, does not necessarily make us any better than anyone else at developing long term strategies. That’s why strategic thinking needs external inputs and challenges on a regular basis, and strategy development is a continuous process not an event.
What prompted this blog entry is a conversation with an old client from a few years back who, a few weeks ago, told me he believes his industry is not “really under siege” from new companies with new technology and that the ten year product strategy I helped them develope seven years ago, before the iPad, Cloud, Open Source, etc. is still right for “at least the next five years.” And I quote: “Chuck we loved what you did for us, your ideas and we are a believer in your product development methodology, but our executive team is too busy and we do not think we need to re-assess our strategic initiatives every year.” After I got up from the floor, I sent him a framed copy of the letter. He is a good sport and today he sent me an e-mail asking for time to “talk strategy” and a picture from his office with the letter hanging right next to his “XXX of the Year” award from five years ago;-) Sometimes a picture is truly worth a thousand words!