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Here's Hoping

Optimize Blog - February 21, 2013 - 0 comments

An Englishman’s home is his castle the saying goes unless it’s a castle he secretly built at odds with planning laws. A British farmer recently lost a six year construction planning battle and is being forced to demolish his home. Actually the home is more of a castle which has a turret, ramparts and even cannons. Robert Fidler who built the property, is likely to continue his fight and take his case to the European Court of Human Rights and it is clear that he has invested a lot of time and money in his dream home.
The problem is that the aptly named Mr. Fidler tried to circumvent planning rules. In Britain you cannot start construction of a property without planning permission. Once you have secured permission then you need to build the property as per the approval and any changes need to be re-licensed. By all accounts this is quite a cumbersome and costly process, often taking many months to complete and the planning permission, even if granted, can require changes or restrictions to the original plans.
However, retro-active planning permission can be granted if a property without planning permission is lived in for more than four years with no objections being made and so Mr. Fidler came up with the ingenious plan of hiding the building for the requisite four years. He did this by constructing a 40 foot wall of hay bales and tarpaulins……. He and his family have lived in the property since 2002.
Upon expiry of the four years, Mr. Fidler removed the hay wall, revealing his impressive creation and hoping for the retroactive permission to be granted. His hope was dashed however as the planning department refused on the basis that Mr. Fidler set out to deliberately deceive and that the building works only finished when the straw bales were removed – so the four-year rule did not apply.
A bit like our friend Mr. Fidler we regularly come across businesses where they are hoping that things will work out. Our standard response to this is that “hope is not a strategy” – a saying made famous by legendary football coach Vince Lombardi. The hope that business will turn around or the hope that they are doing the right things is just not good enough and like the castle owner, success is unlikely.
We operate in a very real business world, which may or may not be what we want it to be or think it is. Nonetheless, it is exactly what it is, and the strategists adjust to it and go with the flow and don’t create a false illusion as to the business environment they live in.
Some people unfortunately do, which is counterproductive by spending their time believing things will be what they want them to be. There is a difference between facts and beliefs.
Hope is not a strategy, and wishes don’t do dishes. Fighting reality does not pay very well. One of Murphy’s laws states: “If your facts are wrong but your logic is perfect, then your conclusions are inevitably false. Therefore, by making mistakes in your logic, you have just a random chance of coming to a correct conclusion.”
Don’t use hope as a framework for coming up with your strategy. Get the right data, challenge your assumptions, make valid choices and don’t take short cuts. Strategy is critical to business success. Not taking it seriously or relying on hope will very likely end in a demolition order.

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