The Tao of Business Strategy


Tao is a Chinese term meaning the ‘way’ or ‘route.’ 

The Tao of Business Strategy is a simple, highly-effective path to creating the kind of business strategy you need. your staff desire; your stakeholders demand and will create wider social and global benefit for generations to come.

Taoism recognises the interconnectivity of all things.  The Tao of Business Strategy recognises that strategy is intertwined with business success and the development of great people who will go on to create further great businesses in the future.

There is no ‘easy’ way to create a great business strategy, it will always require hard work; intense questioning and rigorous planning but this Tao provides 3 basic steps (jewels) to getting the essence right.

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Your Why?

Start by creating and defining your own thunder, your raison d’etre, the very reason why your business exists – the thing you’re passionate about.

Getting this right will feed a simple yet effective statement of the future as you see it (your ‘vision’) and encapsulate your reason for doing what you’re doing (your ‘mission’).

Tell the world what you’re about.

If they believe in your thunderous ‘Why’, they will support you even when things don’t go according to plan.

If you’re passionate about it, you’ll attract others who are passionate about it too.  Think Apple here – they don’t have ‘customers’, they have ‘supporters!’

Your What?

This will explain ‘What’ your business will be doing. Be it making widgets or tilting the axis on which the world rotates. It should absolutely link in to and support ‘Your Why’.

These will be your ‘objectives’ and they should support your mission and move you toward your vision.

If they don’t, then you’ve got something wrong and now’s the time to go back and review where the gap is.

It also covers (in the planning stages) these important things:

  • What’s required
  • What’s expected
  • What’s within and outside acceptable tolerance
  • What will be your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
  • And so on.

Leave nothing to chance, create plan A, B, C and so on.

Doing this will make clear your expectations to your team and to your shareholders whilst attracting supporters. It will also help in describing the wider benefits to society.

Your How?

Now you know ‘What’ you’re going to be doing and ‘Why’ you’re doing it, it’s time to start thinking about How you’re going to make it happen

You have to know how you are going to get your message to the masses and get the various component parts together.

Emanating from this will be the ‘when’ and ‘who,’ but these are logistical or operational considerations, not strategic ones.

Your goal here is this:

Get the team who can deliver on your strategy not the strategy that your team can deliver.


The natural law of ‘cause and effect’, Karma suggests that if you do good things, good things will continue to emanate from it, a positive ripple from a single act thrown into a still pool of water.

This Tao is designed to ensure that you do ‘good things’ in order that good things are visited

Upon you your

  • Business
  • Colleagues
  • Friends
  • Investors
  • Customers
  • And the wider community

This is because it places that wider altruism at the very heart of everything that your business exists to achieve and believes in.

Of course, merely doing good deeds is not enough. Success will require continually checking on progress; avoiding mission-creep, and digression, hubris or complacency.

A strong moral compass, combined with a defining mission-statement and a code of ethical practice, coupled with the kind of integrity that epitomizes professional leaders and managers is the winning combination. If you embody these ideals, it will ensure that you stay on the Tao, creating professional and ethical practice for generations to come.

So what are you doing to understand Your Why, What and How in your business? How can you evaluate what you are doing and recalibrate so that you get on a better path? What sort of balance are you creating in your personal world that can impact your business life? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Colin Millar is Operations Manager for the CRBS in Scotland
He is an Official Ambassador of the Chartered Management Institute and EFQM Business Excellence Practitioner & Assessor

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Skype: colin_b_millar

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