Strategy: Often it's what you DON'T do …

By Andrew Bass | Articles

Tags: Articles

Andrew Bass’s Pragmatics Newsletter

Practical techniques and thought-provoking ideas

Main article takes under 4 minutes to read. Subscribe at

Please pass this on to colleagues who you think will find it interesting:
‘sharing’ link in the footer.

Being strategic: often it’s what you don’t and won’t do..

This approach to strategy is as simple as it gets. But simple does not mean easy!  In fact, gaining commitment on answers to the questions below can require all kinds of deep thinking and hard bargaining. The tough issue for many businesses (and individuals, teams and units for that matter) is to achieve focus, so your resources are not scattered, but without over-committing yourself to one big bet, or getting more and more efficient at delivering something which is fast approaching its sell-by date. Let’s start with focus. To really understand what business you are in, I’ve found it’s particularly powerful for clients to come at it from a new angle, and to clarify what they don’t and won’t do (and to debate and articulate the reasons why without coming to blows!).

Try these questions, and review them regularly:

1. What are we really selling? What are we not selling? Why?
(Fancy term for this for those who like MBA-speak: Product or service

2. Who are we really selling to? Who are we not selling to? Why?
(Market scope).

3. Why do they spend their money with us rather than with someone else?
(source of sustainable competitive advantage, customer value

I present these here without too much commentary – partly because their meaning is clear enough, and partly because I promised you something quick to read (answering the questions may take you longer!). For more, read
Chapters 4, 8, and 9 of my new book The Performance Papers, visit the website, or contact me directly. If you are not already a subscriber to Pragmatics, you can sign up easily at – it’s free to do so.

In the coming months I’ll be looking at the factors that make those questions ‘simple, but not easy’, suggest ways of building focus while avoiding dangerous over-commitment, and crucially, look at how to ensure your Intentions are followed through into action.


Andrew’s new book: The Performance Papers: Incisive Briefings For Busy

The Performance Papers: contains pragmatic ideas for managing strategically, leading teams, and influencing stakeholders in order to accelerate results. It is designed to be dipped-into or read straight through according to need.

“In this book, Andy provides expert guidance for aligning your people with your objectives and turning strategy into action. Particularly beneficial are the short summaries, conclusions, key points, tips and multi-step Processes.”

Jens R.Höhnel, Global Co-CEO & President Europe,
International Automotive Components Group ( IAC)

More about The Performance Papers – including testimonials, an extract and buying information (both from Amazon, and bulk orders for corporates) are available here:


Copyright 2011 Andrew Bass. All rights reserved.
Permission granted to excerpt or reprint as long as you include attribution.

Published by:
BassClusker Consulting Ltd
15 Kings Rd
Sutton Coldfield
UK B73 5AB
Company Number: 4395770
t: 00 44 (0) 121 427 7217