I’m working with a client that is looking to develop a far clearer and more compelling strategy and proposition for its business. While the management team are excited about the emerging future direction, they are equally frustrated that they didn’t do it years ago. It’s so much harder, they argue, to catch up with the market leaders now than if they’d made this move much earlier.

The answer to this comes from a Chinese proverb that goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

It can be easy to believe that you’ll never be able to catch up with the ease and convenience of the best on-line businesses, or match rivals with strong track records of product innovation or beat those that are able to sustainably deliver low cost solutions to their customers. Amazon, Apple and Ryanair, for instance, all planted their strategic trees at the very best time – 20 years or more ago.

But the second best time is still now. 


Ten years or so ago, for example, Tesco looked unassailable as the UK’s leading grocer. It might not have seemed worthwhile to take on this retail giant. Yet the investment and focus from Aldi and Lidl, in particular, has shifted customer behaviour and has completely changed the dynamic of the UK grocery market.

You may think that you’re behind your competitors in some areas of your business, but what new strategic trees could you be planting now that, over the next few years, could help your business to grow, blossom and thrive?


Off The Record: Let It Grow by Eric Clapton


Standing at the crossroads, trying to read the signs

To tell me which way I should go to find the answer

And all the time I know

Plant your love and let it grow


© Stuart Cross 2018. All rights reserved.