Strategy vs Tactics

In the worlds I inhabit, I am noticing an increasing lack of attention being paid to strategy. Whether it be in business, or in politics, or in personal lives, where people are moving from day to day with little focus on options beyond the next few weeks or months. Tactics have become extremely trendy, while strategy is somehow seen as unattainable, esoteric, obtuse or in plain language “a waste of time”.


A couple of theories:

Younger people: Rushing to embrace the nu nu instant world of the internet and short attention spans, are unable to expand their day to day life to adhere to “goal making” and other “long term”, “esoteric” topics. Alternatively, as Hugh Mackay says, people of 30 and under have been raised in a generation of immense change: economic recession, economic boom, technological change, internet revolution, economic paradigm shift, globalisation, the internet, etc. There is so much change and it occurs so quickly that people are reluctant to commit to anything for fear it may become obsolete – hence his term, “The Options Generation”.

Or is it something else – the labour shortages in Australia are leading to a general lack of brains in management? The thought economy is largely populated by people who haven’t an original thought?

Maybe it’s people who are time poor: Too much time working IN the business and not enough time working ON the business. I liked the expression I heard from the Director of Marketing of National Foods, “our people used to have a lot of headroom, now much less so. Headroom is the 10% of work time which accounts for 90% of all good ideas”. Is there less headroom in business? Are businesses demanding much more, a false economy in terms of increased sales, accountability and billable hours whilst simultaneously ignoring the longer term planning and frameworks?

Or might it be risk aversion: Nobody wants to pin their hat on a strategy and tactics to back up that strategy in case they chose wrong and someone holds them to account. Again I talk about my massive frustration at the stale and dull state of general entertainment and advertising (anyone watched free to air TV lately?).

Sun Tzu, military strategist and all round good guy, write in his magnum opus “The Art of War”, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”.

Why aren’t people BRAVE enough to just say: “let’s look at a two, five or ten year vision of where we are going to be”? Some scenario planning, some goals, some strategy. It might just help even out the fluctuations and we might all be better off because of it…


The ATO is planning on taxing gold farmers?!

Virtual world: tax man cometh – BizTech – Technology –

The Australian Tax Office is with it… In another sign that the virtual worlds and real worlds are colliding, the ATO is warning that Gold Farmers are likely to be taxed on earnings from online games.

How they will track virtual currencies I don’t know. This is a very interesting development as the years progress and various currencies and e-currencies begin to displace country based currencies. Keep an eye out.

Wired’s lesson: “Let everything happen and measure it”

The Editor of Wired, Chris Anderson, has come out with this very interesting perspective, echoing what I was saying earlier in the week:

He described how the old magazine model is one based on scarcity, where its the editor’s job to day “no” and contrasted this to the new web model, where it’s all about saying “yes”.

He suggested that it’s now the web, or rather, the audience that works out if its any good or not.

Talking about business planning, he described how in the old world, you used to write business models explaining how you were going to get ROI, now you just do it and see if it works.

According to Chris, everything is bottom-up, including management.

He now does everything his interns tell him to do, they recently suggested doing a press conference in Second Life, which he did.

“Let everything happen and measure it”, were his parting words.

The Gold Rush – Virtual goods and virtual wealth

There are huge changes in the relationship between the online and real worlds (the real world being referred to in cyberspace and in this piece henceforth as “RL” – real life).

Gold farmers have been around for a while, those people who make a career out of performing certain tasks such as mining gold in computer games such as World of Warcraft and then selling it online on exchanges such as eBay and so on.

But little did I know that gold farming as a job was just so popular. It is estimated that in China alone, there are over 100,000 full time gold farmers. 100,000 people who operate in an often organised, hierarchical, productivity based job (which can even be unionised)!

It’s remarkable that these people perform tasks in an online world and then sell the fruits of their labour in RL. There is a multi, multi million dollar economy built around these industries. We will see a lot more of this, as people operate in semi-RL labour environments, existing through media such as Second Life, World of Warcraft and Star Wars Galaxies and then transferring these skills or other outputs to RL.

RL is so behind the times. Universities, for example, could have truly virtual classrooms, with people all over the world attending lectures by famous people, both living and dead. Worried about missing the social element of uni? Don’t be – emergent gaming allowances will mean people can play around as much as they like, just like in RL. And in terms of collaboration, can you imagine that? Your avatar existing in any environment, with any skills, strengths, etc. It could expand education into so many different fields, and seriously cut the cost of education delivery.

It will fundamentally change the way people socialise, work and learn. It’s already changed the way they play.
And has RL a lesson to teach these games? What about doing it the other way? Gaming companies and virtual lifestyles could be placing clues, keys, tasks and quests in RL which could be collected by a mobile phone, PDA or laptop and then transferred into the games.

/lol, it’s a serious business.

On a final note, check out this doco on Gold Farmers for more info. It’s REALLY interesting.


What if the every band in the world could record one album only?

I was reading one of Russell Davies’ excellent blog posts when I found this great, great thought.

What if every band ever was only able to record one album?

When I was back doing A&R and some band would present some cool demo, great songs, good style, etc, the thought would go through my head: “they’ve had their whole lives to write these tracks; how good will their next set of songs be?” Which bands have released a masterpiece debut album and never been able to follow it up?

For that matter, how many film or fiction writers have done the same?