In recent conversations, it became clear to me that many people believe other people favour taking action over thinking about strategy. This viewpoint has been expressed as a criticism: the underlying argument being - people should spend more time thinking about strategy.
Here’s one reason: People who strategize tend to take decisive and that ‘forethought’ combination promotes accurately-aimed action. So, strategy is the seedbed where both effectiveness and efficiency have the opportunity to grow.
Abe Lincoln knew this. He said, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."
Regardless of the merits of strategic thinking, many people choose to take action over thinking about strategy.
Before getting into the possibilities, “Why” is important because - if progressive changes are to be made, leaders must understand the ‘motivations’ behind people’s behavior.
Obstinate-to-change behaviour is rooted in emotions.
In the business environment, often, obstinate-to-change behaviour is rooted in negative emotions…fear-based emotions.
So, to understand what needs to be done to change behaviour it is essential to understand the underlying fears.
I have found Napoleon Hill’s summary of fears to be the most helpful starting point for understanding fears. In his classic ‘Think and Grow Rich’ (first published in 1937), Hill defined the following 6 basic fears:
- Fear of Poverty
- Fear of Criticism
- Fear of Ill Health
- Fear of Loss of Love
- Fear of Old Age
- Fear of Death
What do you think?
In business, which of these fears would cause a person to resist strategic thinking?
Strikes me that the first two – Fear of Poverty and Fear of Criticism – are the likely root causes. Both these fears are most-common: that’s why they are at the top of Hill’s list. Obviously, it will take some forethought and sensitivity in order to explore these limiting-fears. The effort will be well rewarded.