Drive for show – putt for dough #strategy

It is that time of year again here in Australia when there is a lot of great golf on TV.  It reminded me of a classic saying in that sport “You drive for show but you putt for dough”.

In other words it is how you finish each hole which makes the difference to your overall results.  The winners are the ones who can finish the best.  Most great pro golfers can get from tee to green in regulation numbers but the real stars are those who consistently finish with the least number of strokes.  Indeed there is a lot of discussion at the moment around the putter and whether the modern long putter gives an unfair advantage,  so putting is truly the real differentiator in that sport.

But of course you can’t putt until you have undertaken all the steps needed to get you close to your target, you need to plan the milestones along the journey to the hole and execute each of those milestones in the best possible way.  Actually you have a lot of information that we don’t necessarily have when developing strategy, you know where you are starting from, you know where you are going to (ok no problems so far) but also you generally know the environment over which you are going to travel to get to the target.

OK, but this blog is about strategy not improving our golf scores so how does this relate?

Well if we think about strategy lots of organisations are good at writing strategy and placing that into a flash folder with wonderful graphics.  After all they have been doing it for years, filling in the approved template with great words and pretty colours.  They set up big objectives often with lots of linked activities and focus statements.  A big target is aimed at.  But this is only part of the whole game.

But the organisations who actually succeed are the ones who understand the importance of “getting the ball in the hole”.  They understand that the target is pretty small.  They understand that to get to the target they need to have a set of steps that they need to excute in a logical and connected sequence.  They also understand that if they keep the target front of mind they almost certainly will get to their desired result.  And they know that if they don’t keep on moving towards the target they will never get there.  No shortcuts!

So when you have your plan ready to implement it is important to realise that:

* getting to the target is a journey of a number of steps

* the steps have a logical and connected sequence

* how you execute each step will impact the work to be done on the next step

* you need to maintain focus on the target at all times

* strategy without implementation is just a dream and a wasted opportunity

So when it comes to strategy make sure you are “putting for dough” it is the only measure of success!  Be a great pro strategy implementer!

(this post also appears at


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