You can grab a strategic insight from anywhere, IF you’re looking for it – even in a popular song.
Strategic Thinking about “What Matters”
One of the most obscure strategic insights I’ve used throughout my career dates to grad school and hearing the song, “If She Knew What She Wants” by Jules Shear (and popularized by The Bangles). There is a line in the song that says: “Some have a style that they work hard to refine, so they walk a crooked line.”
This lyric first resonated in a graduate school finance class where we were discussing and graphing corporate dividends and yields. If a company wants to maintain the same dollar payout for each dividend (the “style” it is refining), its yield could fluctuate dramatically (the “crooked line”) to maintain the stability of the dividend. If, on the other hand, a company wants to maintain a stable yield, the dollar dividend payout will fluctuate; in that case, the “style” and the “crooked line” roles flip.
As life has progressed, it is clear this strategic insight applies in a variety of situations.
What to Keep and What to Creatively Change
When you do the strategic thinking to decide what matters most and try to keep it constant, you have to solve for other things. These other things may have to creatively change over time – even if you hold them near and dear but not quite as important as the thing that matters most to you.
The vital strategic thinking breakthrough is locking in on something that REALLY matters so much that it deserves to have you hold it constant. There are many things people personally select as the style they want to refine that seem important, but are really very poor choices. Ego, spending levels, possessions, career ambitions, societal standing – these are all frequent choices people make for “what matters” that seem important, but could lead to unhealthy fluctuations in a variety of other aspects of life.
A Strategic Insight
Spend a lot of time deciding what is really important that you will work long and hard to refine. And once you have done that, use all the creativity you have to vary everything else as you must (and as you are allowed) to protect what is most important to you. – Mike Brown
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