Changing the Way the World Thinks about Strategy

By Robert W. Bradford, President and CEOrobert-bradford-presenting

One of the most vexing issues encountered in strategic planning is a focus on the negative, especially threats and weaknesses.  Obviously, we’d all like to avoid having weaknesses, but let’s face the truth:  no matter how hard you try, or how much you pretend, every organization has weaknesses.  Greatness never comes as the result of eliminating weaknesses for one simple reason:  it’s impossible.  Beyond that simple fact, making corrective action beyond a certain point an inevitable waste of time, attempting to correct weaknesses can do more harm than good.  This is because many things that make an organization distinction are inextricably wrapped up in attributes which also have a dark side.  In other words, great strength is often the result of a unique way of managing weakness.

By embracing the weakness, and owning the strength it inherently brings, many organizations can find a path to distinction that is unavailable to their pretentious competitors, who act as though they can do no wrong. As customers, we often recognize these organizations as more authentic, providing an unusual offering that their bland competitors are unwilling to embrace.  This is why Apple products are unapologetically expensive, Southwest Airlines is enthusiastically cheap, and major cultural and sporting events are often ridiculously inconvenient.  We buy these products and services not in spite of their weaknesses, but to some extent because of them.  This is because the underlying weakness holds the seeds of a greatness that only brave competitors are able to embrace.

How do you embrace your weaknesses?  Is there a market-beating strength hidden inside them for you to embrace?  For more about strengths and weaknesses, please view Strengths and Weaknesses, a webinar by M. Dana Baldwin.  Click here.

Robert Bradford is President/CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached at
© Copyright 2014 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution


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