Friday, July 16, 2010

Strategy is like Eagles mounting up with its Purpose-Profit balanced wings?

It is one of those dilemmas that keep coming back again and again – Is our strategy supposed to be purpose focused, profit focused or both? An insightful analogy- I have come to grips in recent days is that - Strategy is like the eagles mounting up in to the skies without them actually flapping their wings. What does that mean? Eagles - as part of God’s creation are gifted to fly without them actually flapping their wings as long as they are flying under the wind thermals. A wind thermal is a big gust of tailwind coming out of the warm atmosphere - that helps eagles to latch onto it - and thereby making the eagles to fly along its gradient (or riding the wave) without them actually flapping their wings (and thereby conserving less energy).

What does it have to do with strategy? Well, hold on a minute…the analogy does not stop there – the eagle insights also expand to their wings, eyes and above all to their directional focus -as outlined below. Hopefully, we can use this analogy as the lynchpin for the next few blogs – perhaps one lesson each week - as we have lot to learn from this analogy - as it relates to developing impactful business strategies.
  1. First of all, strategy as a whole is the eagle.
  2. Its wings represent Purpose and Profit dimensions respectively.
  3. The wind thermals represent the tailwinds helping the eagles to soar without flapping their wings– representing strengths/opportunities part of our business strategy.
  4. The normal winds are the headwinds that help eagles to take-off initially- but, after a while, slow them down if they don’t latch on to the wind thermals quickly – representing the weaknesses/threats/constraints facing the business strategy.
  5. Direction sensing large eye (with dual cones and fovea) that is used by eagles to differentiate and stay focused on its journey - representing our differentiation strategy against competitors.
  6. Prey protecting/sensing eyelid that is used by eagles to sense their prey at a far distance - representing the prevention/mitigation strategy against competitors.

With this analogy as the foundation – we are going to focus on three key take away messages as part of this blog- besides the fact that strategy is the eagle.
  • Balance the purpose and profit part of the strategy equation.
  • Lead your industry vertical with your wind thermals (tailwinds like strengths/opportunities)
  • Learn to stay afloat (under) the wind thermal and flap like eagles with less energy(i.e. leverage the strengths/opportunities to get to the almost zero marginal cost or emotional equity cost model - as we saw in the Degree of Operating leverage(DOP) and Degree of Purpose Leverage (DPL) measures in the previous blog ( ).

In other words, if our strategy does not have the well balanced purpose and profit agenda- that is tightly latched on to the wind thermals (tailwind like strengths/opportunities), it is impossible to stay float with less energy. As it turns out - if the eagles do not latch on to those wind thermals quickly when they come up on them, they will forever stay perched. In the same way, if our strategy does not take off quickly on those tailwinds (or strengths/opportunities), we might never learn to stay float (i.e. with the almost zero marginal and emotional equity cost model) - and our strategy will eventually perish right before our own very eyes.

Bottom line – Strategy is like the eagle - with its wings representing the purpose-profit dimensions - and the wind thermals representing the strengths/opportunities that make the strategy to soar very much like how wind thermals make eagles to soar. Not only that - this tailwind driven strategy -with almost zero marginal and emotional equity cost model (like eagles flying without flapping their wings) —is indeed the best in class strategy that is guaranteed to succeed. Isn’t God creations wonderful?


  1. Charles, this is a great metaphor for strategy. Where the eagles dare, strategists dare.
    Direction needs a compass. What is your version of compass?
    Smashing reading that stirs the mind and makes it go through the thermals

  2. Thanks Ali Annani. You bring up a great point regarding the determination of power of eagles and how they get focused on a given direction using their God given compass- which I was planning on covering in the next blog. Based on the research I have done – it is amazing to see how eagles are able to do that – equally important is the interesting insight for us to learn from- in terms of sharpening our strategy compass– please stay tuned.

  3. Charles,
    I am eager to read your next post. The more I think about your metaphor, the more I like it. What triggered me to make a second comment is the lesson you provide. Why should anybody exhaust his/her energy when he/she can do that effortessly by coming to terms with the surrounding environment. We need to learn from eagles