Hope Is (Not) a Strategy!

Chicago skyline

Have you ever heard the following, “Hope is NOT a strategy?” I once had a boss who was notorious for yelling at people if they used the word “hope” in any manner. It was a thing. Really. And I was on the receiving end of it more than once. My peers pulled me aside on the first day and told me never to use the word “hope” in his presence. Well, I thought, I’m in big trouble. Because, you see, as a Christian, I believe in faith, hope, and love. And although the greatest of these is love, hope made the final three. That’s pretty rarified air. Know what I mean?

As an executive with significant operations, manufacturing, supply chain, fulfillment, logistics, warehousing, and engineering experience, I’ve been trained to develop plans, to have a strategy, and to create associated tactics. Gantt charts and critical paths and excel pivot tables and analyses of variance and hoshin kanri and so on have been part of my life for 35 years. It’s part of business. It’s how things get done. It’s how we show progress. And demonstrate accountability. And ensure we haven’t left out steps. And measure success. KPIs and metrics and scorecards. You know the drill. Whether you’re in a large corporation, start-up, school ,or World Cup-winning soccer team, having a strategy, associated tactics (the plan), and metrics is like breathing. So what?

So, I want to circle back to hope. Is there a place for hope in the corporate boardroom? On the factory floor? On the pitch at Old Trafford? I say, emphatically, yes! It’s not a zero-sum game, like zero-based budgeting. It’s an expansive game, a both-and game. You should, by all means, develop a strategy and associated plans. You should execute. And follow-up. And adjust. And sweat the details.

But don’t forget about hope. Don’t forget to pray. Don’t forget to wish people well. Don’t forget to bring relationships into the task picture. Don’t forget to bring your heart to the head game.

Work hard to develop your plan and then hope for the best. Schedule an appointment with the best doctor and then hope for a great outcome. Do the quantitative analysis on which house to buy and then hope the market appreciates. Study for the exam and then hope the professor likes your essay.

For me, when I use the hope, I’m often saying, in a sense – you matter, the outcome matters and I’m pulling for you. I’m praying for you. I’m on your side. I’m going into this thing with you. We’re on the same team, family.

What’s your approach? Are you a person with no room for hope in your life? Or, on the flip side, are you a person with hope but no planning? Decide to change today and be a person who does both. Hope and plan. Plan and hope. You’ll find they go hand-in-glove.

Hope you have a great week. Look for opportunities to combine hope with strategy. Hope with an action plan. Hope with execution. Let me know how it goes.

is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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