Eliminating Ostrich Thinking

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On September 8, 2019

Build a strong business strategy

Building A Strong Business Strategy to Avoid Ostrich Thinking 

Businesses have been known to “bury their heads in the sand” when facing threats or challenges. It’s sometimes referred to as “ostrich thinking,” and it doesn’t help a company to grow. So, what are the keys to eliminating ostrich thinking?

Debunking a Myth

First of all, I’m afraid I have to debunk a popular cultural myth.  According to the San Diego Zoo, ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand when threatened. If they can’t escape, they will flop to the ground with their heads and necks stretched out in front of them. The light color of their necks and heads blends in with the color of the sand.

In the world of business, however, ostrich thinking is very much alive. The behavior of ignoring potential dangers, or uncomfortable truths is life-threatening for any business. It’s a complete disaster for any business looking to scale up and grow.

What Leads to Ostrich Thinking for Businesses?

Why do some businesses (or more accurately, some business leaders) ignore or refuse to deal with threats to their business? It usually happens when they are taken by surprise—blindsided by a competitor or a shift in the market. Because they’re surprised, they don’t have a plan to deal with the changes, and there are no simple solutions.

The Absence of a Strategy

If you’re looking to scale up your business and grow dramatically, you can’t do that from a defensive position. A company that’s avoiding challenges isn’t going to dominate their industry. Taking on challenges, however, doesn’t just happen. It’s intentional, and it requires having a good strategy.

You need to determine specific goals for your company, and then come up with detailed plans for how you’re going to accomplish those goals. That will include figuring out who will be responsible for what, what the specific deadlines are, and what it’s going to require in the way of resources (including cash).

Your Strategy Can’t Just Look at the Positives

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re serious about dramatic growth you need to have big goals. That’s why I’m such a proponent of having a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). But if you don’t want to be blindsided, you have to also identify the challenges. That’s why doing a SWOT (Strength Weakness Opportunity Threat) assessment is so critical when developing your strategy. If you know what your weaknesses are and what potential threats there are, you’re less likely to be surprised—and hide your head in the sand.

Proper business strategyOstrich Thinking Isn’t Your Only Concern

Some businesses are aware of the threats to their growth. And while they don’t ignore these threats and obstacles, their strategy is to play it safe. That may protect them from making some mistakes, but it’s not the kind of strategy that will allow them to stand out from the crowd. You’ve probably seen the bumper stickers that proclaim: “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” I’m not suggesting that your company has to act out or be ill-behaved, but taking the safe route isn’t going to result in the changes or growth you want. Think of it this way: The middle of the road is a great place to get run over.”

How’s your business strategy? Do you have a strategy that will take you where you want to go? Does it take into account the challenges and threats to your business in addition to the opportunities?

If you’d like to get a quick look at where you stand, I invite you to click on the button below and take a 2-minute assessment that can help you answer those questions.

Strategy Assessment