Is Your Strategy Always Right? Lessons Learned from Jordan Spieth

The headlines to this year’s Masters was Jordan Spieth’s “car crash” on Augusta National’s signature hole #12 after leading the tournament for the previous 65 holes. Spieth shot a quadruple bogey to lose his lead and the tournament in the final round at the Masters. Jordon’s long time caddie, Michael Greller wrote an emotional and compelling response to that event on Facebook that struck a chord. Greller wrote, “The 2016 Masters stung…but don’t feel sorry or sad for us. We won’t get stuck in this moment, nor should you. We will work harder, fight harder and be better for it. We will bounce back as we have done many times.” (Read Michael Greller’s post here.)

As strategy management consultants, we can learn from this experience and from Greller’s words of wisdom. Strategy is about making choices and placing bets on the future. It is about choosing a path to success, and taking action to achieve that success. Although we believe those bets are based on the best current knowledge and experience about markets and products, the truth is that no one can predict the future. In the real world, things do not always work out the way you expected. And because managing strategy is a dynamic process, strategy teams need to be prepared to change course, “work harder, fight harder and be better for it.” With this in mind, consider these two steps

Expect that things will not always go the way of the plan. If we could predict the future, we would all be rich and happy. Unfortunately, in the real business world, things happens that are out of our control. Customers are lost, competitors are acquired, new products don’t achieve their targets. This is not the time to “feel sorry and get stuck in the moment.” Be prepared by having a process in place where the strategy team will reassess previous decisions based on new information, explore alternative strategies, and make new bets based on current market realities.

Take action on your decisions. Bounce back quickly and decisively. “Work harder and fight harder and be better for it.” Looking back and understanding what went wrong builds organizational character. Admitting to and learning from failures builds even greater organizational character. When people are confused and disheartened by the “car crash,” they are looking for leaders to lift them up and make things right again.

Jordon Spieth will most likely relive that moment on #12 at the Masters by practicing that same shot 1000 times off the course. I don’t expect that he will experience that same misstep again too soon. Do you have a bounce back experience you would like to share with us? Let us know what your experiences were. We all can learn a lot from each other.