Strategic Retreat? More Like Strategic Advance

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This is the time of year for annual strategic planning sessions.  Business leaders are pulling their executive teams together to map out a strategy for the coming year.  “It’s time for our 2011 strategic planning retreat,” they’ll say.

Retreat?  Do we really have to call it that?  I know the strict definition of the word, but its connotation bothers me. 

The business world frequently adopts terminology from the military context.  We say things like, “It’s time to launch a marketing offensive,” “We’re ready to unleash an all-out assault on the market,” or “We’ve been in hunker-down mode for the last year.”  In fact, even the term strategy originates in the military. 

From that standpoint, retreat is a negative word.  It’s synonymous with withdraw, relinquish, and concede.  Is that the way you want to be thinking as your organization plans its coming year?  I don’t think so. 

It’s time to retire the strategic retreat.  From now on, lead your organization on a strategic advance.  It’s time to advance your purpose and achieve your goals.  Assess your current position, identify the target, and push forward.  That’s what you really hope to do, so call it what it is.

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