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If it smells like cheese…



I have recently read Michael Lewis’s Premonition. It is about the people who back in the Bush administration created a nationwide pandemic response strategy.


Lewis mentions the Swiss cheese slices model which basically says that complex threats cannot be mitigated by a single silver bullet. You need layer upon layer of solutions that, like Swiss cheese slices layered on top of each other will together close all the holes.


This reminded me of a dilemma I lately had about STRATAGILITY®. When I first created it (and wrote in the first and second editions of GROWTH) I took the Swiss cheese approach – when designing the action plan in the 4th part of the planning process I suggested to plan and deploy multiple Boosters to tackle multiple problems and/or exploit multiple opportunities.


I then met an expert who claimed that just as you cannot travel on two roads at the same time, you can’t focus on more than one strategic driver at the same time – you need to select one and concentrate all your efforts on it.


On the one hand this made a lot of sense – diluted attention leads to diminished results, but coming to strategic growth facilitation from real life and working in SMEs it bothered me.

In an ideal world a business can identify one big thing that will make all the difference, but real life tends to be more complex than this and SMEs usually have to fight on multiple fronts to get to a stage when they can focus on one big thing to do.


Therefore, in the third edition of GROWTH I now present both options – the Swiss cheese slices and the Swiss cheese block. It is up to the organisation to decide if they can afford to select one strategic direction and focus on it, or if they still have work to do to get there.

 

How is your organisation handling strategy? Do you prefer Cheese slices or a block?

 

4 Comments


The best approach depends on the level competition and the 'technical maturity' of you product or service offering - and your speed to market. When the technology is immature, and the market uncertain, putting all your eggs in one basket is unwise - and may limit your ability to respond to emerging threats and opportunities.

A lack of focus on the details of delivery will undermine any strategy - but we need to be focused and agile!

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Amos Beer
Amos Beer
Jun 28
Replying to

Thanks for reading and commenting

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Amos Beer
Amos Beer
Jun 28

Thanks for reading and commenting

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Totally right Amos! SMEs particularly need to follow the 'multiple fronts' approach, even as we taught on our IIB RBS course! SMEs must fight on multiple fronts to get to a stage when they can focus on one big thing to do, as SMEs very rarely have the luxury of finding one place they can improve by 100%, but can much easier improve 100 things by 1%.... Thank you for your ongoing provocotive articles.

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