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Brexit and a Multi-Step Strategy?

Whether or not we agree with the UK’s Brexit decision yesterday, (the markets don’t, with the Pound losing significant value) I heard an interesting strategy commentary yesterday on The World from a Scottish Comedian, Janey Godley. With the failed Scottish referendum on independence in 2014, many people voted against in so Scotland could remain in the EU. Yesterday, Ms. Godley’s fear was that Scottish voters would vote for Brexit so that they could call a new referendum on Scottish independence and rejoin the EU as a separate nation. And as suggested, this morning, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Scottish Minister, said she would push for a new referendum.

This implied two-step strategy brings up an interesting chess-like dilemma for business. In what cases would a company want to self-sabotage in the short term for a potential long term gain?

Certainly, companies often have to leave behind their cash-cow products and technologies behind to innovate and leapfrog their competitors. And if they don’t, they risk a slow death when they are scrambling to get back in the game. Microsoft has tried this unsuccessfully multiple times with Apple. It remains to be seen if the purchase of LinkedIn will propel them forward again.

When looking at your own strategy, when is it appropriate to look one, two, or three steps ahead, and make a counter-intuitive decision with the long-term goal in mind? A leap might seem to risky especially when there is cash flow on the line.

Those Scottish citizens for independence have no guarantee their near-term tactic will work, but their long-term strategy has set them on a course, perhaps to Scottish independence….

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