Strategic thinking: some people don’t get it, do they?

Watching the BBC’s The Apprentice, I am reminded of a show in last year’s series when one of the contestants endlessly repeated ‘What’s the strategy? What’s the strategy?’ to a team leader who had no answer.

Quite clearly, he didn’t know what a strategy was (or is).

This meant that not only was the team very badly led but, as happens when no one knows what is going on, anarchy ensued.

Let’s say the task was to make and sell a flavoured beer.

‘What flavour should it be?’

‘I like raspberry.’

‘I like strawberry.’

‘I like chocolate.’

‘Ooh yes, I like chocolate too.’

‘Let’s make chocolate beer!’

‘Great idea! Loads of people like chocolate.’

‘So the colour will be chocolate brown?’

‘That’s boring. All beers are brown.’

Lord Sugar won’t like brown.’

‘Yes he will. Brown Sugar!’

‘My favourite colour is pink.’

‘My favourite colour is yellow.’

‘Mine’s blue.’

‘Ooh, yes! Blue’s really in this year.’

‘How about chocolate blue curaçao beer?’

‘Great idea! I love curaçao.’

‘Blue beer?’

‘Good point. Blue’s not very chocolatey is it?’

‘Or beery.’

‘People love curaçao where I come from.’

‘Where’s that?’


‘I live in Edgware. Everyone drinks curaçao in Edgware.’

‘Where shall we go then? Lewisham or Edgware?’

‘Let’s meet half way.’

‘Great idea! Where’s half way?’

‘Whose got a map?’

‘Look! Buckingham Palace is exactly half way between Lewisham and Edgware.’

‘Lets go there!’

‘Do you think the Queen likes blue beer?’

‘She wore a blue dress last week.’

‘And she’s got blue blood!’

‘I wonder how much beer she drinks?’

‘She is the richest person in the country.’

‘So she’ll buy more than anyone else.’

‘Cool. Let’s go team!’





You may not believe it, but I have been in ‘creative’ meetings like this in real life.

Funny isn’t it?

Surely it would not be beyond he wit of man to ask:

What are we trying to achieve?’


How are we going to do it?’

And bleeding well THINK!

About Hugh Salmon

Business leader. Adman. Writer.
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