top of page
Dannielle takes a hypothesis based, data driven approach in identifying opportunities and isolating barriers. This approach has been successfully employed across a wide variety of scenarios including: Growth, Go-To-Market, New Market Expansion, Post Merger Integration, and Revenue Operations

Top 3 strategy misconceptions:

It’s purported that just 4% of the population innately thinks strategically. If you google “what is strategy” it will return roughly 3.2 billion search results most reasonably straight forward and all equally nebulous. I routinely get “how do you ensure your strategy is executable?” This is always asked with an undertone of haste. I find what often poses as a strategy is simply an aspiration. It’s difficult to execute an aspiration if you have not determined whether that aspiration can be achieved, should be achieved, if there an interim aspiration required, and the identified pathways to turning that aspiration into reality. I cringe, a little, when I see strategy defined as a “plan,” this is correct but it’s also misleading.

 

If in fact just 4% of the population innately thinks strategically, then I argue that is by design not by chance. We often view the world comparatively rather than complimentary. I liken “strategist” to “chefs,” as the saying goes having too many chefs in the kitchen will disrupt the flow of execution but if that kitchen lacks a chef, you will likely struggle to carry out the baseline requirement to operate as a restaurant.

 

Considering this, I am sharing the top three strategy misconceptions I encounter most regularly. They are not ground-breaking, but I feel a reminder is pertinent.  While more misconceptions exist these three, are by far, the most pervasive. and in my experience strongly interconnected in the way strategy and its value are perceived.

Misconception #1: We don’t have time.

This stems from the need to demonstrate immediate value, which is illustrated through outcomes. That is fair enough, and I don’t disagree however being clear on what outcomes will yield the greatest benefit, and which will lead you down a dead end, is paramount. If you put enough energy into anything you will get an outcome but don’t let an outcome fool you into believing you have been successful.  Assessing your options does not have to be a six-month process, or a weekend offsite in wine country. Often, it’s taking a minute to as the question “Why? Why are we taking this action?” and “What are we seeking to achieve?” Taking those few extra minutes can be critical in driving better outcomes.

 

Misconception #2: We are in start-up mode (Too small)

What I find interesting about this misconception is the larger companies are often the biggest culprits. I routinely hear organisations with $1B+ market caps, say “we are in start-up mode, we need to execute not plan.” The irony is, often start-ups know they need a strategy, or a “plan” but feel they lack the skills or resources to devise one. Organisations both big and small, struggle to implement key objectives from corporate, digital, go-to-market, and new product or service launches.  All boast, on average, failure rates ranging from 60% - 90%, this makes failure the norm not the exception. Invariably the underlying cause is a lack of planning, an unclear why, and siloed thinking. Next time you think you are too small, or perhaps too established to engage in a strategic exercise, I would question the underlying cause of that thought.

Misconception #3: Strategy and tactics oppose one another.

Strategy and tactics are not opposites. They are different aspects of the same phenomenon, or different parts of a hole. Strategy informs the tactics and tactics intern inform the strategy; the process is iterative. If you apply an either-or approach, you are literally halving your chances of success.

Dannielle takes a hypothesis based, data driven approach in identifying opportunities and isolating barriers. This approach has been successfully employed across a wide variety of scenarios including: Growth, Go-To-Market, New Market Expansion, Post Merger Integration, and Revenue Operations

Success is about showing up: 

For many, 2023 has been a pivotal year, and we are just slightly halfway through. There are those that have been impacted by the many technology layoffs, and others, have experienced more significant personal life changes., and perhaps both apply.  Many, myself included, have been forced to ask themselves, "what matters to me", "who am I" and most importantly "who do I want to be?" If you are lucky, you’ll be faced with this question at least once in your life, hopefully more. Those uncomfortable times, when every door seems to close, only to stumble across the only one that truly matters - the that speaks to your heart. Sometimes doors need to slam shut, to refocus our attention down a more advantageous path.

 

I had a mentor that would routinely quote Woody Allen “90% of success is just about showing up.” I was always uneasy with that quote, not because it lacked substance but who is credited with saying it. Despite my discomfort, I have been reminded over the past few months, why its valid. I am a member of an Angel Investment group, called “First Believers,” within Startmate’s portfolio of offerings. Startmate is an organisation focused on cultivating a thriving start-up community across Australia & New Zealand (ANZ), in the hopes of finding and producing ANZs leading unicorns (a start-up with a billion-dollar valuation).

 

The start-up world is tough, we’ve all heard the stats, roughly 90% of start-ups fail within their first seven years. Blackbird, Australia’s largest Venture Capital (VC) firm and Startmate’s parent organisation found that out of a 100 VC portfolio companies, 64 will result in a net loss, 31 will break even, and just 5 will return a profit on the VC’s investment. Startmate’s most recent accelerator, was comprised of 500 start-ups all grasping for early-stage funding opportunities. Just 7% of the 500 companies secured funding; 93% of participants received rejection notices “thanks for applying better luck next time.”

 

I am mindful of these stats when reviewing a pitch deck or speaking to an early-stage founder. The odds are inherently against them, yet they still prevail many with unwavering confidence and purpose. Doors slam shut for them routinely, and yet they constantly look for that one door or window that is ajar. Which has forced me to ask myself - what is the determinant of success?

 

If asked me this question a year ago, I would have provided a stoic and distant answer, “it’s about aligning your current state with where you want to go and assessing the pathways available to get there.” Yawn … while this is true it's not overly inspired and candidly a bit boring, c’mon Dannielle you can do better. What the last few months have taught me, is Mr. Allen has a valid point. Thus, when posed the same question today, “what is the determinant of success?” I hold these three points to be most viable.

 

#1. Show Up

Unsurprisingly, this is #1. Whatever you want to accomplish “show up.” You want to get in shape, go to the gym. Don’t hit the snooze button, just go. It won’t be the best workout, but it doesn’t matter just get there. You want to start that business, start it, don’t think about just do it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your empire won’t be either.  Put one foot in front of the other, incremental changes add up over time.

 

#2 Be Accountable.

I started my career in the US Air Force, accountability was a non-negotiable in the military. It did not matter if you were directly responsible for a circumstance, task, or person if you were in the vicinity, you were accountable. Admittedly, I have not always espoused this, but I have always strived for it. Be accountable, not just to others but to yourself. Without accountability success is a fantasy.

#3 Others’ opinions don’t matter.

Unfortunately, we seem to be wired to care about what others think. This is problematic, realistically, none of us have it figured out. We are all just trying to find our place and voice. While seeking advice from those we value, can be advantageous allowing other viewpoints to alter what’s in your heart, will only lead to disappointment and regret. My advice, be your own person and go your own way, people will either follow or fall away; if they fall away they were never along for the long-haul anyways.

Dannielle takes a hypothesis based, data driven approach in identifying opportunities and isolating barriers. This approach has been successfully employed across a wide variety of scenarios including: Growth, Go-To-Market, New Market Expansion, Post Merger Integration, and Revenue Operations

The importance of why transcends any barrier 

“He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.” A poignant reminder from existential philosopher, Friedrich Nietzshe. So why is “Why,” so important? Simon Sinek became a household name through reminding us, all the importance of “why.”  Sinek’s Ted Talk resonates with such a broad audience that out of 50K Ted Talks, Simon’s routinely ranks in the top five, boasting 60 million views. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we are all searching for our “why,” its importance is metaphysical. Yet across our professional and personal lives it often gets lost in translation. The research shows that this maybe a bigger problem than simply feeling flat. I was recently introduced to “PIL”, a research discipline in the field of neuroscience; it stands for “purpose in life.” It consists of three pillars 1. Believing that life has meaning, 2. Upholding a personal value system and 3. Having the motivation and ability to achieve future goals and overcome future challenges.  It turns out having a purpose or a “why” has significant health benefits. Outside of mental clarity, it bolsters your “biological grit,” and resilience. Some other surprising benefits include:

1. 50% reduction in developing Alzheimer’s.

2. 72% reduction in having a stroke.

3. 44% reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

At a cellular level, setting clear intentions, supports the health of your nervous system. Quite literally, you are biologically wired to have a “why.” I have seen this play out in highly salient ways. In early-stage funding rounds, a Founders “why” can secure funding, it can overcome gaps in the commercial model and even the product or offering itself.  Investors will often state “it’s about the Founder” as a determinant whether they invest or pass. It’s really about their belief in that individual or teams “why,” and their level of motivation and resilience to endure the journey ahead. The driving force behind an intention can breakdown any barrier, overcome any challenge and/or market limitation. Simply put if there is a will there is a way.

Our “why” is critical, I routinely hear in the corporate world, “tactics inform the strategic.” That we must “do” before we “define” where we want to go. I don’t accept this notion. I agree they are related but I disagree with the order they are in. If we biologically crave a why, then there is no neurological difference between a personal goal and a corporate objective.  As illustrated in the PIL research, when we have purpose we thrive, when we lack it, we atrophy; why wouldn’t this extend to a corporation as well? Afterall they are just comprised of people seeking purpose.

If you are like me, and at times find yourself feeling flat, try to remember your why, and the purpose that serves. As a friend once said to me “the world moves for those that know what they want,” begging the question – how will your “why” move the world?

bottom of page