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Executing Business Strategy, Just Knocking Down Dominoes

December 1, 2011

Strategy Concepts

How to choose the correct first tap?

 

“I want to know which domino to tap, how hard and at what angle to get the last one in the cup.”

During the kick-off intro of a business strategy course recently, I asked the students what they wanted to get out of the training program.

One of the students came up with that doozy (or is it ‘doozie’?) of a course objective, up there in the first line.

Since I was responsible for making sure the students got what they wanted out of the class, I had to ask for a little more detail.

So he talked about his goal for the class.

I see business strategy like a dominoes course.

What the student described for the class was how he viewed business growth strategy like one of those huge domino course competitions.  You know, like the Guinness World Record kind.

Just for kicks, I went on a YouTube hunt.  Check out this video.

. . . to the story. . .

What the student saw in his mind is a giant room (maybe a gymnasium) full of dominoes all lined up in intricate patterns.  There are different colors of dominoes, different sizes, various ladders and cups and balls mixed throughout.  An ordered mess.

And at the center of the room, is a paper cup.  Above which sits a final domino to be tapped off a short platform into the cup.  The goal.

Back at the door of the gym, there were 10 different dominoes that, if tapped, would start 1 of 10 different chain reactions across the gymnasium floor.  But not all would put that last domino into the cup.  All paths were not guaranteed winners.

His challenge is to choose which domino he needs to tap to put the ball in the cup.

And this is how he saw business strategy.

Developing his business strategy was, to him, like trying to figure out which domino to tap at the door.  He needed to be able to asses the environment, determine which obstacles needed to be climbed and which could be avoided.  He wanted to be able to scan the gymnasium, draw important conclusions, and then act; and tap the domino.

So his goal for the training was to learn and develop skills to help him sort out the options, draw accurate conclusions and then act – execute his business strategy.

Obviously, I liked this story.  So I put it up on the blog.

Comment below.  What’s your favorite business strategy metaphor?  Or, least favorite? (share the ridiculous ones too)

 

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