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The Critical Path


Every strategy has a critical path. No matter what. Now, the level of criticality depends on the situation at hand.


The strategic plan is just the vision being put on paper. We cannot define success in a plan, ever. It's may be a successful achievement to complete the plan, but the plan is just a proposed path. We all know the execution phase is what warrants the truth of success or not.


"I am not betting on the locker room talk, I am betting on the athletes on the field playing the game"


So this is where critical path conversations really take place, on the field. Every strategy I have been a part of the "pulse of the path" is critical. Meaning, we need to measure performance as we are executing. Monitor results in real time, and ensure our analytics standards are in tact. Seems straight forward, for those who understand successful strategic execution, measuring performance in real time is key! This blog isn't to re-educate anyone on that....unless that part is news to anyone, I am glad to read this!


What I am getting to is that critical point. The point where the road somewhat moves in a different direction than expected. The bump in the road appears, the pot hole, or the worst, a large tree trunk is right in front of us....


The strategic leadership skill of identifying what to do now in this critical path moment is crucial. Knowing not just how to "pivot" but fully embrace the tree trunk on the road, and how to guide the team to either move it, go around it, or seek a new path is important. This is where trade-offs, change in scope, change in expectation, or a revamp of the plan come in.


Critical Path is not defined, it's an awareness of obstacles and how to strategically navigate them to get to a minimal level of tolerance and acceptance on the direction of a strategy.


This may mean more investment of resources...yes spending more sucks, but so does not garnering the profit from hitting your strategic objective.


This may mean lessening resources and lowering your standards of the goal, but it's better than seeing previously spent resources go to waste and at least obtaining some minimal profit.


It could mean a hodge podge of outcomes... but the point is, as a strategic leader:


1) Know "the pulse of the path"

2) Know the right time to identify the course of action at critical path moments

3) Know you aren't going to win the "plan" but you can win in the "execution" still


I'd rather have a really good something, than a whole lot of nothing.

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