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  • Writer's pictureDr. Cristina DiPietropolo

Busted! Five Common Strategy Myths You Should Know in 2022!

Updated: May 27, 2022


Business owners and leaders often struggle with strategic planning and implementation. Although they know the importance of building a strategy and aligning essential business-related decision-making, they fail to realize that it is virtually impossible to observe and control everything in a business. Moreover, their infatuation with strategy keeps them from identifying the numerous myths surrounding the idea of strategy-building.

It is crucial to understand what a strategy is NOT and bust the myths potentially detrimental to business success. This article explores five common strategy myths to help business leaders and executives develop an organizational strategy on a clean slate. Let's get started!

How do lies differ from myths (half-truths)?

Before discussing the most common strategy myths, we need to know how they differ from lies. Lies come in different sizes. Small lies are easily detectable. However, big lies are the ones that are most difficult to judge. That's because big lies have a nugget of truth or are packaged in a way that people listening to them begin to doubt themselves. Individuals use big lies as a smokescreen — blurring the truth, creating doubt, and confusion. However, an individual with enough evidence can quickly identify the lie.

On the other hand, myths can trick even the most accomplished person. These are subtler traps that are based on plausible half-truths. If followed, the myths won't fail to deliver the results, at least for some time. Myths are often realized when the damage is already done, and it's too late to undo the choices you've made.

Now that we are well-acquainted with the differences between lies and myths let's go ahead and bust some of the common strategy myths in the corporate world!

Debunking Five Common Myths About Strategy

Myth 1: "Focus on long-term minus surface noise"

Strategy isn't always about the long-term.[1] Certain challenges can make you question the industry fundamentals and assumptions that you've held for a long time. Such challenges can arise frequently and push you to make strategic changes. Therefore, one should not consider strategy as a long-term or short-term commitment.

Instead, think of strategy as "the fundamentals of how the business works" that should be used as a tool to bolster the company's current condition for the challenges ahead. In other words, strategy is also about determining what you should do now to shape a better future.

Myth 2: "The impact of disruptors"

Start-ups are obsessed with disruptive products and services. Their eyes lit up when innovative products and services hit the market. They easily confuse innovation with strategy — thinking the big companies changed their strategic direction to innovate or achieve a competitive advantage.[1] In reality, the products and services developed by the market leaders often reflect a consistent strategy - one that business people have been using since the 1960s.

Bruce Henderson, the founder of BCG, investigated and found that companies use smart pricing tactics to gain market share and achieve market leadership. We're familiar with the notion of cutting prices to gain market share. This approach is still happening, but it's just packaged differently. For some industries, it's not termed cost-cutting but commonly referred to as 'blitzscaling' or 'hypergrowth.'[1] But it's all the same! Don't believe me? Think about Amazon and the rest of Big Tech — giving it away now to add users to get more in the future.[1]

Myth 3: "Competitive advantage is dead"

Would you believe if we tell you that big companies like Meta, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet have massive competitive advantages? You would because other similar companies have failed miserably to achieve their high standards. The barriers to overcoming their mammoth competitive advantages are beyond imagination.

The truth is that competitive advantage is NOT dead for companies that know how to leverage multiple advantages rather than doubling down on just one. The big five realized this fact years ago and have built several competitive advantages instead of betting on just one. Gone are the days of relying on a single competitive advantage in the market. You have to be diversified as an organization and "rely on multiple advantages, not just one." [1]

Myth 4: "Forget about strategy; just be agile"

Agility in business is essentially acting at high speed and being highly responsive to changes in the market. It helps companies achieve immediate operational benefits. However, agility isn't a strategy. It is a capability that, when directed appropriately, can bolster a firm's competitive position.

Moreover, companies without a plan don't necessarily operate without a strategy. In other words, planning isn't strategizing. Strategy is just a set of guiding principles and frameworks that can be applied in the now to overcome a challenge. Consider this, "being able to turn on a dime doesn't mean you'll turn in the right direction."[1] Moreover, agility is a capability best leveraged by a strategist that knows where to put it to work.

Myth 5: "Focus solely on a digital marketing strategy"

Developing a strategy for the digital part of a business won't cut it. After all, you can't leave the rest of the business alone and focus entirely on one part. Digital technology has fundamentally changed how companies source customers and deliver products and services through the collection and storage of data. However, you need to think through and figure out if the fundamental assumptions[1] of your business model are still valid while addressing digital.

Don't focus solely on a digital strategy and ignore the rest. A digital strategy should be carefully planned and should reinforce your strategic plan, not take its place of it.

Final Remarks!

In today's rapidly evolving competitive environment, organizational success can be challenging. The uncertainty can make you question the fundamentals of your business model and push you to make changes that seem effective in the short or long term. Regardless of your current situation, we suggest you approach it with clarity so "you can make rapid resource allocation decisions"[1] that are in the best interest of your company. Having this type of mindset will enable you to create strategies focused on winning the battle and eventually winning the war!

Dr. Cristina Rosario DiPietropolo is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Leader Essentials Group, an executive consulting firm focused on organizational effectiveness. Extensive experience across multiple industries and highly skilled in the areas of strategic planning, organizational behavior, human resource management, change management, leadership, and digital marketing. Over ten years of teaching experience as a Visiting Professor of Management, with a special focus on leadership in entrepreneurship, organizational behavior, and international management.

_________________________________________________________________________ [1] Bungay, S. (2019). Myths about strategy. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr. org/2019/04/5-myths-about-strategy. Zugegriffen, 18.

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