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Strategy vs. Improvisation

As a believer in strategic planning and execution in the business venue, there is something to be said about being able to think on your feet. When a client sits with me I have to LISTEN very carefully and be able to give them alternatives to solving their problems. It is no different than what some call IMPROVISING.

imageI watched the NFL seasonal opener between the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night, September 6. I was so impressed with Peyton Manning and his accomplishment of seven touchdowns without an interception, which was the first time this has been accomplished in the NFL since 1969. I sat back and said to myself, “What a great strategic and execution plan!” The next day, I read in the Wall Street Journal’s sports page, “The truth is that Manning is the master of improvisation.”

Yes. Peyton Manning is an athlete who, thanks to modern medicine, overcame a potential career-ending injury by undergoing four neck surgeries. Having to adjust his original career strategy, he adapted his game and found a way to compete at the highest level again. He was able to think on his feet and produce the phenomenal success we saw during the amazing game Thursday night, which is another step in his amazing turn-around of the entire Bronco team.

You may want to call improvisation “experienced execution” or, as Harvard Business School calls it, “your gut reaction.” It all works–I take my hat off to Peyton Manning. One can do all the planning but there is still a need to be able to think on your feet, make the hard decisions, and put out the fires.

Congratulations to Peyton Manning and all of us entrepreneurs who know how to improvise.