Have you ever heard either of these old sayings about the need for business strategy, “If you don’t know where you are going, you may end up somewhere else” or “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”?
In case you’ve been under a rock and have never heard those, I bet this saying is familiar, “a business without a strategy is like a ship without a rudder”.
When people speak about strategy, they often use these travel idioms and similes because it is easy to make us think of movement, motion, and destination. We relate to those because it is something we do every day. Everyone and every organization is in motion. We are on the go every day.
It would be easy for you to jump to the conclusion that these sayings mean that a strategy should be focused on trying to get from point A to point B. And at its core, that is what a business strategy should do—identify where you are going. It should tell you what you will and will not do to get there.
But think about this: In traveling from point A to point B, you have choices. Punch a destination into your car’s navigation or GPS, and you’ll get options such as shortest distance, fastest time, avoiding road construction, or avoiding accidents and other delays. The point of these options is to limit distractions, minimize time, and optimize the effort to get from point A to point B.
Those might be good methods to use on your morning commute, but they may not be the best for your business strategy. Why?
Because you may miss the joy of the journey.
The joy of the journey includes exploring new and different possibilities. It includes wanting to learn new things. Course correction, growth, excitement, and new experiences are all part of the journey. And those make the journey worth taking.
I call this taking the rewarding path.
The rewarding path may not be the fastest or the straightest, but it has value. The rewarding path lets you arrive at the destination as a better business or a better person. It inspires and builds appreciation. It makes reaching the destination more meaningful.
As a business owner, you may have been led to believe that a strategy should only involve straight lines. It can, but certainly doesn’t have to. You get to decide what the most rewarding path for you and your business is.
As we enter 2015, take the time to map out your strategy for getting from point A to point B. Consider how to make your journey the most rewarding—not just the fastest or easiest.
Do you have an example of a time you were rewarded for not taking the shortest distance or fastest route? What joy did you find and what made this decision the rewarding path?