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Made me think on John Ruskin's Aphorism 1 in "The seven lamps of Architecture":

"We may always know what is right; but not always what is possible".

According to Ruskin, "sense and conscience, aided by Revelation", are always enough to discover what's right. However, nothing is able to tell us, at a glance, what's possible, what we can actually do, what we can succesfully execute.

Well, a good strategy can be ruined by poor execution... but I've yet to hear of a poor strategy being saved by a fantastic execution.

Like Woody Allen once said: You can't make a good movie with a bad script, but you can make a bad movie out of a good script.


The weakness of your argument is that, if you actually talk to senior executives, and also look at more systematic research on firms that dominate over long periods (see the Chapter in our book Hard Facts on "Strategy is Destiny"), there is precious little evidence that the best strategy is a mystery in most industries. What distinguishes winners and losers more often is the ability to do the right thing. Every airline knows Southwest's strategy, every bank knows Wells Fargo's, every auto company knows Toyota's strategy. Sure, there are exceptions, but I would argue that the ability to innovate -- rather than an innovation strategy, whatever that means -- trumps strategy too. Apple and 3M, for example, are not strategic in the traditional MBA sense at all, nor is Google, but they focus on innovation. And HP is really an interesting case... Hurd has really not changed the strategy hardly at all sense Carly left, he is just implementing it!

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