Is it just me or have long-term strategies gone the way of other fads? What is going on these days? Technologies recycle every year or more often in some cases. Brands are changing their logos, etc much more often. Many workers are changing jobs every 3 years or sooner. The software is being updated every couple of months. We are being inundated with the new and improved version of XXX continuously. Couples are getting divorced much more often. Budgets are being more skewed to shorter-term results.

In short, several leaders are looking for the quick fix or route to success. I am going to explore what has happened to long-term and ways leaders can take a more tried and true approach toward success that is being taken now. I will do this in 3 blogs, the first of which will look into some of the successful entities and what makes them successful. The second will explore some of the approaches taken with respect to some of the decisions being made on College Football and NFL Coaching changes considered at this time of year. The third will look at changes being considered in the corporate and non-profit arenas.


It seems everyone is aiming at being or having the best and wants to get there in the shortest possible time or route. I would submit that all are chasing what I term the ‘elitists’ because they are the ones that have not only made it to the top but have learned how to stay there or sustain themselves.

In the category of the organizational elitists, I would include the following:

  • Duke/Kentucky (Basketball)-(Mike Krzyzewski and John Callipari) has won 3 of the last 6 NCAA Basketball championships
  • Alabama (Football)-4 National Championships in last 7 years led by Nick Saban (2007-current)
  • New England Patriots- 4 Super Bowl championships in last 14 years led by Robert Kraft and Bill Bellicheck (2000-current)
  • San Antonio Spurs- 5 NBA Championships in last 17 years led by R.C. Buford and Greg Poppovich (1998-current)
  • Apple-50% sustained growth in last 10 years led by Steve Jobs and Tim Cook
  • Amazon-growing at a 20% clip over the last 5 years led by Jeff Bezos


What is it that makes them so successful? What are the threads that lead to a fine finished product?

  1. Great Leadership at the top. In most cases, these organizations have had the same or consistently strong leaders at the top during their lengthy successful term. Their leadership has stabilized the entire organization and steered them toward successes on a sustained basis because they rarely deviate from their long-term strategy.
  2. Decision making has been very astute especially for strategy and people and in a few cases of crises. I use the writings on Judgment of Tiche and Bennis as a hallmark here and find it to be a true delineator for the elite and the wannabes. Another thing the elite leaders do is surround themselves with good leaders that fit in with their long-term strategic plan and can be developed internally.
  3. Long-Term Strategy drives what they are aiming for. Everyone is on the same page driving toward long-term success. This is a huge key to their success and certainly separates them from the rest of the field.
  4. Processes are tried, true and continuously being refined to sustain growth and success. Early on, the leaders worked at finding the right processes for their situation and have stayed with them and improved as needed.

Seems like a pretty simple formula for being successful, right? Well, most of the rest of the pack is still looking for the short formula for success and chasing this ‘elitist’ group with short-term strategies. What I mean by this is that these other organizations are trying to win NOW at all costs, read-looking for the shortcuts to the top.

Is it possible to turn organizations around in a short time period with short-term strategies? Sure there are several examples of the turnarounds that did not quite have staying power. Sometimes filling holes with short-term solutions like junior college ball players or free agents can get an organization up to the top, but find it difficult to stay there. Sometimes being unethical or doing somewhat illegal things can help you achieve top status as well.

I call these the ‘One hit wonders’ or ‘One and done’ transformations. I would place WorldCom, Enron, and FLA Marlins in 1997 when they won the World Series and then had a fire sale from bringing in higher priced free agent. A slight exception would be the TB Bucs winning the Super Bowl the year after Tony Dungy was fired.

So you want to be a successful leader in your little empire. What should be your formula for success? Are you going to be chasing the elite with a short-term strategy? The choice is yours pay now or pay later, in the words of the old AAMCO commercial.

Can these precepts apply to you as a small business leader or first line supervisor? Where does a long-term strategy and vision start to affect a leader’s ability or performance? Stay with us as we explore the possibilities in the next 2 blogs……the next one explores the strategic hiring of College Football head coaches.

MG (Retired) Mike Diamond is CEO and founder of Diamond Strategy Group. Diamond Strategy Group is a leadership development and consulting company. We focus on improving the quality of leadership within organizations by utilizing the same methods Mike and his consultants have used in both military and civilian sectors. We invite you to stay connected! Visit us online at and connect with Mike Diamond Strategy Group on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail us at!

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