Is Hope a Strategy?


Hi, everybody. I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question.

“I was in a meeting recently with our company’s senior leadership, discussing something to do with our website. It’s not my area of responsibility, but I personally think our website performs optimally in a couple of regards. One of our senior leaders said, ‘Well, we hope that what we’re doing will work eventually.’ Taking a phrase from James Cameron’s work, I blurted out, ‘Hope is not a strategy,’ and he said, ‘Yes, it is. We will keep pressing on with what we are doing.’ I was blown away, speechless, and wanted to leave the meeting. I stayed, however. I have always subscribed to the adage, ‘If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.'”

Yes, isn’t that terrible? “It’s not working, but we hope it’ll work eventually.” There’s two things to look at. Number one, have we not given enough time? You got to take an inventory. Are you just impatient? Does it need more time?

The second thing that you have to do is, you have to provide data and facts. Here’s the data, and keep track of the data. If it’s not performing optimally and it’s not your expertise, then just look at the data as it relates to your role, and continue to accumulate that data, and think through how it is not working, and then present the data.

Now, in the meeting, I don’t know if you asked this question, but when you said, “It’s not working optimally,” and they said, “Well, we’re going to keep doing it and hope it works eventually,” did you ask them, “How long are we going to give it?”

See, what happens in meetings a lot that I see, what happens a lot in organizations, is they don’t quantify things. “Well, we hope it’ll work eventually.” What does that mean? By when? “Let’s give it till September 1st. Let’s give it till October 1st. Let’s give it to January 1st. Let’s give it till next week.” I don’t know, but when you’re in a meeting like that, and it’s senior leaders, and it appears that you are one– that’s the inferred message– I want you to always work on the idea that you want to get things quantified.

If you get them quantified, then can we revisit this at the end of the quantified period, at the end of six weeks at the end of four weeks, at the end of next week, whatever it is? That’s the only way to influence leadership teams, is to start being very quantifiable in how we’re evaluating it. “Well, let’s hope it works eventually. Hope is not a strategy.

Well, you’re right. Hope is not a strategy, but sometimes leaders think, “We’re going to hope it works,” because they really haven’t given it enough time. Maybe you’re a little less patient, I don’t know, but always build quantity in, and then measure what’s happening in the interim. That’s the way all good research happens, so that at the next meeting you can create good, quantifiable data, to have a meaningful discussion.

Hope that’s helpful.

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