Strategy, meet Technique

We have talked about aligning company goals across departments and teams. All business owners want to avoid contradicting priorities and confusing instructions. Remember to start with “your mission statement and values, review your guiding principles, and account for the resources of each department.” Then “Have a strategy in place, and make sure your new goals fit within that strategy.”

Now it’s time to think short-term.


Your cold-calling script is not your strategy. Your website copy is not your strategy. Your employee training schedule is not your strategy.

These are all techniques.

A perfect illustration of this difference is given in the Weinstein movie Hands of Stone, a biopic of Panama boxer Roberto Duran, starring Edgar Ramirez, Robert De Niro and Usher. The scene I describe below is not a plot twist and happens early in the film, so I don’t believe there are any spoiler alerts here.

Ray Arcel – Robert De Niro’s character – and Roberto Duran are seated and resting during a training session. But the lesson has not stopped, Ray Arcel explains that a victory in boxing comes as much from the mind as it does from the body:

Strategy is your plan for the whole fight. It’s your long term.
It defines how you apply the technique to achieve your major goal.
It’s okay if your technique fails for a beat as long as you’re following the strategy*

In their first fight together, before each round Ray Arcel combs Duran’s hair. He later explains that this is to fluster his opponent: after both giving and receiving a beating he comes back in the round and sees an elegant and composed looking opponent: someone who looks so different than how he himself feels.

The strategy is intimidation through superiority – you could say condescension. The technique is to comb his hair.

What if he loses his comb in the middle of a fight?

No matter – he sticks to his strategy, and simply adjusts his technique.

They serve different purposes

Strategy vs Technique is equivalent to Guiding Principles vs Working Practices.  Your strategy sets priorities, aligns your goals and ensures your decisions are coherent and consistent.  Your technique is the day to day execution and exists to change. This is where you can experiment, adapt, and adjust.

If your lose your comb, you can use your hands to flatten your hair, or perhaps throw some corrector on those bruises: find another way to look fresh and full of energy.

If your opponent brings his own comb then shift how you intimidate. Counter-attack by looking stronger, or unaffected. Perhaps muss up his hair when you are next in the ring.

You are not tied to your technique, so you are not vulnerable to immediate defeats or changes in environment. You simply look to your strategy to inform your next decision and try something new.


*I could not find a video clip of this scene; the script is from the website Springfield Springfield.