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The Strategic Need to Combine Strategies
The Strategic Need to Combine Strategies

The Strategic Need to Combine Strategies

Somewhere along the way, I just started doing it, combining strategies. Wish I could claim a level of sophistication due to advanced training, but I can’t. It was an incremental evolution in learning to simply solve gnarly problems.

The issue at hand comes from dealing with complex situations where there are typically multiple factors in play at the same time. For instance, as a customer engagement manager for major enterprises, what may be voiced as a simple problem (we can’t use it, it’s too complicated) can often be the results of more than one thing going on at a time.

jtpedersen_321 Ignite_dam_flood_strategyI like the example used by Nina Vassan and Jennifer Przybylo in “Do Good Well.” (ISBN: 978-1-118-38294-3) They use this example: Following heavy rains a dam breaks with the ensuing after-the-fact dramas.

jtpedersen_321 Ignite_combine strategiesHow do you address the fact the dam’s broken? The catastrophe is so immense, where do you even begin? Nina and Jennifer suggest these concurrent strategies: 1) Reroute flood waters; 2) Address the need to drain flooded areas; 3) Begin repairing the dam.  This is a clear picture of combining strategies.

The same things exist In more conventional ‘corporate’ contexts. Consider a situation I encountered.  A national air traffic control organization had acquired millions of dollars of software.  After a few weeks they came to the conclusion it would not work for them, they could not use it, they needed their money back.

At this scale, we are not simply discussing someone refunding a pair of shoes, getting their money, and going about their merry way.  Both the vendor, and the buyer, fear the negative impacts.  Did they waste a huge chunk of their budget? What happens to Sales’ commissions? Will there be political fall-out and damaged careers?

From the more practical side (e.g. what’s really going on here) there is rarely a single issue to be resolved.

No action should be taken, discounting emergency triage, until some level of investigation or education has been undertaken.  In this case, I discovered a lack of training, leading to implementation failures; the vendor changing their licensing schema, and their not knowing it wasn’t working; and, security concerns with available solutions.

Only after dealing with all three of the underlying issues was, “it doesn’t work…” able to be overcome.  Handling only one, or two, of the three core problems would not have resolved the situation.  All three had to be dealt with in coordinated fashion.

jtpedersen_321 Ignite_combine strategies (2)The moral of this story is that you need to keep your eyes open. Be willing to ask Why (The Power of Why!), more than once.

Dig, make sure you understand the underlying issues. And, remember, it’s not just about it doesn’t work. Oh, that life were so simple.

My question to you is: What are some examples you have experienced, where success only came by virtue of combining strategies?

Image credit(s):
Boundry Dam – Chris Seidel
Ancient ruins – patrizio martorana
Red hut – Heriberto Herrera
Car Park – Chris Quinnell-Brock


  1. In today’s world where things happen at the speed-of-light, and everything is connected, combining strategies is the only way. I would even say that triage, in your example of emergency applies. The key here is that our emergency response people have been trained and regularly practice the combinations and permutations that can arise. That practice makes them masters at swiftly applying multiple strategies to stop bleeding, stabilize breathing (in the case of EMTs, as one example). Great article!

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