Bottom Up vs Top Down
It's a great philosophical, business debate when "bottom up" and "top down" thinkers argue the relative
importance of Tactics vs Strategies. Thousands of market strategists are graduated from business
schools each year carrying forth "big picture, top-down thinking." Let's face it... no one goes to B-School to become
a "bottom-up" thinker, or tactician.
So, if the best schools teach "top-down" thinking, it's understandable how other people must view
it as important. I agree that it is necessary. But, I think that its importance is situational... more by industry
than philosophy. As a once "top-down" thinker, who has been rounded by business realities, I'm now a Tactical Marketier
consulting from the "bottom up," especially in high-tech, fast-evolving and/or non-defensible conceptual industries
which have time-horizons and shelf-lives counted in months... not years!
Today, I live by simple truths: The First Truth is...
The best strategic plan, unexecuted, is worse
than the worst strategic plan, well executed.
This is true because humans, with all of their intelligence, are still iterative beings
that seldom, if ever, "get-it-right" the first time. Therefore, they must learn from their failures. In business,
as in life, the test is often given before the lesson.
So, if... "Practice Makes Perfect," then "Execution Makes Excellence!"
Companies do not fail because there is no dream, vision, goal, or strategic plan -- however defined.
The established and entrepreneurial business world abounds with these sugarplums. Nor do firms fail due to poor execution.
Companies fail due to NO execution... at all... in critical areas.
This leads to my Second Truth...
There's a fatal flaw in the maxim,
"Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan,"
if one works only what is planned.
Referencing our First Truth, we know that the act of doing corrects
the act of planning. It must... This is the essence of discovery. And it's always costly. Ironically, the
discovered "laws" are usual quite simple once the core knowledge has been uncomplicated by experiential insight. This
has been true for the launch of flight as it has been for the launch of products. And the validation of this statement
is the number of yearly product failures... despite billion of dollars having been spent in market research.
This leads to my Third Truth...
One can't "armchair" marketing. It's a full-contact sport
which requires a seller to open the buyer's wallet during an
exchange of value... not just their minds in a focus group.
The scorecard of strategic growth reflects the successful execution of this tactical
Over... And over... And over.
"Marketing Tactics Make Corporate Strategies Happen"
It's Not Vice Versa... Period!
John David Sottile