Leaders obsess over logistics, not strategy

Sep 13, 2023 | Insights

The success of a project depends on logistics, planning and reconnaissance as well as the strategy behind what you are doing.
My next-door neighbour asked me if I could cut down an ash tree for her. The tree must have self-seeded over a decade ago in the most inconvenient place it could find. It was now blocking out the light, crowding out other plants and damaging the wall of the house.

So, after work one evening last week, I nipped into the next-door garden to take a look. Mulling over the various aspects of the task, I was startled by my neighbour telling me that looking at the tree wouldn’t fell it. I agreed with her but explained that leaders, including the Duke of Wellington and others, all claimed that time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted.

I could have gone on to quote Abraham Lincoln to her. Lincoln is reputed to have said that, given eight hours to cut down a tree, he would spend the first six hours sharpening the axe. However, I thought this might be a bridge too far for my neighbour, so I kept my mouth shut.

Professionals obsess over logistics, not strategy.

I came across a slightly different version of this wisdom in RF Kuang’s mystical novel The Burning God. On the verge of another battle, one of Kuang’s characters fulminates over amateurs who obsess over strategy whilst commending professionals who obsess over logistics – and succeed.

So it was with the ash tree. My neighbour was obsessed with her strategy of cutting down the tree to solve the problems it caused. I, on the other hand, obsessed over the logistics of the task, taking time to plan the operation to remove the tree without causing collateral damage and removing the debris.

Success depends on preparation.

And this is why I spend a seemingly disproportionate amount of time with clients, working out where they stand before they make any decisions about their future. This is an obsession with logistics, planning and reconnaissance. It takes time. It pays dividends.

There is an alternative, of course. You can rush in, and with luck, you will succeed. But planning something, whether it be a shopping trip, a holiday, rearranging the house or garden or your life and money after the kids leave home, increases your chance of success.

How much preparation do you do?

Given you have 8 hours to cut down Abraham Lincoln’s tree, how long would you spend on preparation?

  • None
  • 2 hours
  • 4 hours
  • 6 hours

My name is Jeremy Deedes, and I design and construct a purposeful and satisfying future for entrepreneurial couples whose kids have left home so that they can grow their wealth, free themselves from cloying restrictions and create new ways of making a difference.

Visit jeremydeedes.com or schedule a free 20-minute consultation call to learn how I can work with you.

Photo attribution

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

Other attributions and references

Kuang, R F. Poppy War. 03 : The Burning God. New York, Ny, Harper Voyager, An Imprint Of Harpercollinspublishers, 2020.

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