“It takes twenty years to build a reputation; and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Warren Buffett
Chairman, Berkshire Hathaway

When Your Strategy is Not Really a Strategy

Before you read further, answer this question (as best you can)“What is your company’s strategy?” I suggest you write out your answer (nothing coalesces thought like writing it down) and then study this short article from the Harvard Business Review. This could help you determine if you know what you’re talking about.

The ability to distinguish goals and tactics from strategy, and avoiding the executive misstep of a total top down approach in strategy development, are key components of executive leadership. Find out why  “many strategies fail because they’re not really strategies.”

Is your strategy one of them?

That Vision Thing

…and speaking of Strategy, having a coherent, challenging Vision supports and informs a great strategy. This short article from Forbes offers a list of insightful questions that you might use to challenge your team (why do it all yourself?) to create a great Vision…. along with a few more questions about making it a reality. Is yours a shared vision, or a vision shared?

A Page from the Sage

Warren Buffett’s annual letter to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway went out a couple of weeks ago.  It’s not the best of times for the Sage of Omaha. The fourth quarter market pull-back and the recent big hit to Kraft Heinz hit many people hard, including Mr. Buffett, but his record and array of holdings offer many more success stories than most. 

These letters are a rich source of wisdom about business and the most important questions about the economy. This short New York Times article summarizes the most recent missive. The full 14 page version of Mr. Buffett’s 2019 letter can be found here.

70% Correct

Our desire to limit the uncertainty in our lives compels us to make predictions; ultimately there are many we’d prefer no one knew we’d made. A few braver souls regularly compare outcomes to their earlier predictions and do so publicly. One of them is Robert X. Cringely who has been a consistent (and often right) technology watcher over the years through his former PC World Column “I, Cringely” and PBS Documentary “Revenge of the Nerds.”  

Each year he makes predictions about the technology world and issues related to it. He then offers a look back at his calls 12 months later. His recap of his 2018 bets has just been published and those interested in the business of technology will find it rewarding (warning, it’s long). Looking back at 2018, Bob was 70% correct. Not a bad record. 

Econ Recon:

Two characters in a Hemingway novel are discussing going broke. One character asks his bankrupt friend how it happened; the bankrupt replies “Gradually, then suddenly.” Many fear a similar fate awaits our country due to the  growing size of the national debt. ITR Economics CEO Brain Beaulieu offers an excellent and sobering tutorial on what everyone should know about the size of the U.S. Debt. Many say it’s not a problem. Mr. Beaulieu may convince you otherwise. He warns “Hoping the world doesn’t mind paying our bills ad infinitum is not a sound strategy.”

On the other hand, Dr. Brian Wesbury sees no reason to run away from the stock market or worry about the economy in the near term because of the size of our national debt. Check out his reasoning in his latest Wesbury 101 video (five minutes)  “Debt, The Economy and Stocks.”