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The Sharp Edges of Strategy and Business

augerSorting through some of my father’s tools yesterday, story I ran into three old auger bits. Rusty as they are, they are impressive tools, intentionally designed, and carefully made by a metal-worker with one purpose in mind: to help a carpenter make a hole.

Running my fingers over a 75-year-old, rusty bit, it was still surprisingly sharp on the edges, very capable of cutting through an 8 by 8 post today. The sharp and pointed smallest tip threads had been carefully forged to grab a crack in the hardest oak, to begin the auger’s journey. In its own niche, it is a well-designed and powerful tool.

There are many sharp, well-crafted tools available in a strategy and business environment.  They may be non-negotiable quality standards, principles for employee involvement, or like one of our clients, unyielding focus on the most productive segments of their business.

To take the analogy another step, sharp tools—perhaps good ideas or innovation –also can be unproductive and even dangerous in the hands of a careless carpenter, drilling holes in the wrong spot, guessing where the right placement should be; or choosing the wrong size and power for a tool in given situations.

But good, sharp, appropriate tools are strong corporate assets. Reconnecting these existing assets in new ways, in the right spot, at the right time, is the hard work of leadership.

  •  A well-made structure starts with a vision of how the various pieces of wood and metal work together to create a structure of use and beauty. Just as a craftsman with a vision and plan knows where the holes should be and how to use sharp-edged tools, the quality business leader has a vision and a plan to advance it.
  • Great leaders apply well-designed tools of research, analysis, planning and communication. They need sharp edges, able to cut through the tough resistance with penetrating insight—to craft new growth with existing assets. In our work at The Valcort Group helping hundreds of companies, sometimes we hear an employee say: “This is the CEO’s latest idea, the flavor of the month.”  The employee interprets the CEO’s effort as just “another hole.”  He is lost, disconnected and confused. A CEO has not clearly articulated his vision and the steps to accomplish it.

In our work at The Valcort Group helping hundreds of companies, sometimes we hear an employee say: “This is the CEO’s latest idea, the flavor of the month.”  The employee interprets the CEO’s effort as just “another hole.”  He is lost, disconnected and confused. A CEO has not clearly articulated his vision and the steps to accomplish it.

More often than not, a good leader knows the importance of having the right tool with sharp edges, carefully crafted to build an organization, drive growth and capture the admiration of an industry.

What are your business’s sharpest tools? Do you know how to use them strategically, and where to drill the next hole that will enable you to build with confidence toward your corporate vision?

 

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