Want a Killer Strategy? Get Busy Doing Things
"We have a strategic plan. It's called doing things."
These are the words of Herb Kelleher, Co-founder, Chairman Emeritus, and former CEO of Southwest Airlines. His approach certainly worked out well for Southwest as the company now flies more than 100 million passengers per year and enjoyed its 43rd consecutive year of profitability in 2015.
Herb understood a critical element of business that is too often forgotten: the best strategy is informed by the doing. With disruptive change being the norm these days, it's especially important to not decouple strategy from action. If you spend even just six months working on a strategic plan for your business, it's probably going to be obsolete by the time you're ready to implement it anyway.
Take for example how the fast plane turn-around time Southwest became famous for. Early on Southwest had to sell one of its four planes in order to stay in business. With a quarter of their planes gone, it meant the company had to figure out how to drastically cut the time it took for a plane to be ready for boarding after disembarkment, which was 45 minutes at that point.
Rather than stepping back and conducting a broad audit of the business to determine what the best strategy was to remain operative, Herb went to the grounds crew and asked, "How can we cut turnaround to 10 minutes?" In the following days, the team figured out how to reduce the time by actually doing things more efficiently. This in turn became a cornerstone of the company's low-cost strategy that has lead to so much success for the business.
Instead of seeking to create the strategy for your business, create a do-test-refine mindset and rapid, iterative process to constantly identify the right moves by actually making moves. Make doing your strategy.
Let me know how you balance strategy and implementation at your company. Then get back to doing things.