I was reading the excellent Made To Stick by Chip & Dan Heath this week and came across the most brilliant analogy to explain why all organisations – or even projects – need a strategy.
“If you’re playing darts and your friend consistently aims too high, you can give useful feedback. But it’s the obvious location of the bullseye that makes your comment possible.
What if and your friend don’t agree on where it is? In that case, your communication will be unproductive and irritating for both of you – and if you were playing “business” rather than darts, the person with more power would win the discussion. A common strategic language allows everyone to contribute.”
I’ve worked on countless projects and in many organisations, where it wasn’t immediately obvious what the end goal was, nor the way we were going to measure it.
If you ever need to explain to anyone – even a boss – why a strategy is important, this is the way to do it.
I’ve just read an interesting piece on the story behind the NASA logo – not the insignia, but the famous ‘worm’ design (above) that was introduced in the 70s.
One particular part of the story made me laugh and reminded me how difficult it can be to make intelligent comments about work an external company/agency produces.
It concerns a conversation between NASA’s Administrator, Dr. James Fletcher, and the Deputy Administrator, Dr. George Low:
Fletcher: “I’m simply not comfortable with those letters; something is missing.”
Low: “Well, yes, the cross stroke is gone from the letter A.”
Fletcher: “Yes, and that bothers me.”
Fletcher: (long pause) “I just don’t feel we are getting our money’s worth!”
You may laugh, but I think we’ve all probably said something similar without thinking.