Why strategic drift is so critical but still overlooked: A start up disaster recipe

Headed for India & landed in Bahamas


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We all know the story of Christopher Columbus set out in a sea adventure to find India and ended up in Bahamas. Such incidents are  common in exploration and research. Even if Columbus was well prepared and known for his trade his calculations where met with dead ends. From his mistakes other explorers learned the lessons, altered their strategy and eventually discovered sea route to India.

From this story we can learn several thigs.

1. Strategic drift


The strategy was to discover a sea route to India, but the strategy failed due to obvious reasons and landed in Bahamas. This shows that their external environment doesn't support their initial strategy. This indicates a strategic drift

2. Adapting to changed circumstances


Instead of pursuing further to find India they started to explore the ' New world' and cashed it in. Which lead to the massive colonization of Caribbean islands, North, Central and Latin American regions. 

3.Learn from history/ Mistakes

The explorers after Columbus learned of his mistakes and charted new course and Vasco de Gama finally discovered a sea route to India, pioneering another chapter of colonization of Indian subcontinent, East Asia and more.


What a Business needs to know from this?


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Strategic drift refers to a situation where a company fails to adapt its strategies to changing external environment and ends up becoming irrelevant or uncompetitive. It is a slow process that occurs over time, and if not addressed, can lead to business failure(shut shop situations). In the context of startups, strategic drift can be particularly damaging as they are often operating in high speed dynamic market where rapid changes are the norm.

Startups are vulnerable to strategic drift because they are typically founded on a specific business model or strategy that they believe will be successful in the market. However, as market conditions change, startups must be willing and able to pivot their strategies in response to new opportunities and challenges. Failure to do so can result in strategic drift, where the startup's original strategy becomes outdated or irrelevant, and it is unable to keep up with its competitors.

There are several factors that can contribute to strategic drift and startup failure. These include 
  • A lack of market research and understanding.
  • A failure to adapt to changing customer needs and preferences.
  • Inadequate funding or resources to support strategic changes.
  • A lack of willingness to take risks or try new things.

To avoid strategic drift and increase their chances of success, startups must remain flexible and adaptable. They must be willing to pivot their strategies when necessary and continually evaluate their performance in the market. Additionally, startups should conduct thorough market research to stay informed about emerging trends and customer preferences, and they should seek out funding and resources to support strategic changes. Finally, startups should cultivate a culture of innovation and risk-taking to foster creativity and adaptability.

Performance measurement as a counter act against strategic drift

Performance measurement is critical in detecting and addressing strategic drift. By consistently measuring and analyzing performance data, companies can identify when their strategy is no longer effective and needs to be adjusted. Here are a few ways performance measurement can help in addressing strategic drift:


1. Early warning signs: Performance measurement provides early warning signs of strategic drift. For example, declining sales or profitability may indicate that a company's strategy is no longer effective.

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2. Alignment with goals: Performance measurement helps ensure that a company's strategy is aligned with its goals. By regularly measuring progress towards goals, companies can identify when their strategy is no longer effective in achieving those goals.


3. Flexibility: Performance measurement provides flexibility in adapting to changes in the external environment. By regularly monitoring performance data, companies can adjust their strategy to better match the changing market conditions.


4. Continuous improvement: Performance measurement can help companies continuously improve their strategy. By analyzing performance data, companies can identify areas for improvement and make changes to their strategy to improve performance.


In summary, performance measurement is essential in detecting and addressing strategic drift. It provides early warning signs of potential problems, ensures alignment with goals, provides flexibility in adapting to changes, and supports continuous improvement. By regularly measuring and analyzing performance data, companies can avoid strategic drift and remain competitive in their market.

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That said, are you evaluating your position? 

Are you in the right path? 

Does your organization is standing right now in a position you visioned initially? 

Are you still that visionary entrepreneur who had dream or shrunk in to a store manger whose sole issues are rolling with the bills? 

Answer these questions yourself. Hope all can reach their moon or mars.

See you soon

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