What Driving With Two Feet Taught Me About Strategy

I’ve been a two-foot driver since I was 16. And I don’t mean just when driving a standard. What I mean is when driving an automatic. One foot on the accelerator, one foot on the brake.
My first job was at a car dealership where, among other things, I was a “car jockey.” Just as it sounds, when the cars needed moving, it was my role to move them. And I sure liked moving those Cadillac convertibles! Anyway, I learned an important lesson from the grizzled veterans of the car lot: Driving an automatic with two feet is quicker and safer than driving with one foot. One-hundred-percent true (just don’t ride the brake). It’s because you can react more quickly and modulate the accelerator or the brake almost instantaneously.
So what does that have to do with strategy?
Simple. As a strategic manager you have to constantly be prepared to react quickly. To modulate your strategy given changing conditions.
Customers clamoring for faster delivery? You might need to accelerate your supply-chain strategy. Economy taking a downturn? You might want to apply the brakes to your geographic expansion strategy. Increasing industry consolidation? You might want to speed up your acquisition strategy. Cash getting tight? You might want to slow down your equipment upgrade strategy.
In each case you want the ability to react quickly. Often that doesn’t mean simply “punching” the accelerator or “slamming” on the brakes. It means reacting quickly, and responding in a measured way.
That’s what two-foot drivers do. And that’s what strategic leaders do.
Make it happen.
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