Category Archives: Strategy


A recent spate of poorly put together marketing emails and post has left me wondering whether business, political parties and others in the UK understand ‘accessibility’ and its value when trying to communicate with others?

inaccessibleAccessibility; in response to the second part of the question I pose in the title for this blog, it’s a bit carrot and stick.

The stick is the law; namely the Equality Act (2010) which expects businesses to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for those identified as having ‘protected characteristics’ namely; age, disability, sex, religion or belief, race, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marriage & civil partnership and pregnancy & maternity.

But what is accessibility? It is a good measure for how well you are making those ‘reasonable adjustments’ required by the law – how easily can someone with one or more of the protected characteristics access your products or services? Or even read your marketing materials?

There are the obvious such as do you have accessible toilets (often called disabled toilets) which someone in a wheelchair could actually access. This is not as ‘common sense’ as you may think. In the process of conducting Accessibility Audits* for organisations, I have come across ‘accessible’ toilets that a wheelchair user could enter but not close the door behind his or herself because it opened inwards. Would you want to leave the door open while using the toilet? Is this ‘reasonable?’

Then there are the less obvious barriers to accessibility which I see on a daily basis and which I will come to in a moment.

But, before I do, consider the carrot and stick again. If the law is the stick then the potential for increasing the size of your market is the carrot. For, which sensible business (or other organisation) will not make ‘reasonable adjustments’ if they open up previously ignored demographics?

This is where understanding those less obvious barriers to accessibility become important. Let us take something as seemingly innocent as a font you choose to use on your company website, in your emails, or in other communications. The main driver here is usually the ‘look’ and the overall design yet for an estimated 10% of people the font you choose can be the difference between being easily read, difficult to read and even, for some, near impossible to read.

By understanding which fonts are more (or less) accessible and making those ‘reasonable adjustments’ you make your business more accessible to, potentially, 10% more people. That is over 6 million people in the UK.

There are numerous other ways in which understanding how to make your business more accessible can increase your potential market size by 10, 15, or even 20%; many just as easy as changing a font.

Equality is important and the law is there for a reason but surely, for the sensible business, the carrot is preferable to the stick and the carrot of increasing the number of people you are talking to must be worth some reasonable adjustment. Especially if your competitors are not doing the same!

Is accessibility worth the bother? You tell me.


*Drop me a line today to book your Accessibility Audit and start opening the door to your business to more people.

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global, 2016

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Blue Ocean Strategy is not for everyone, it requires a special set of skills and abilities. But for those who have them, identifying the Blue Ocean and swimming towards it can be great news for business…..

ocean-turtleMuch within corporate strategy hinges on either the development of or the protection of competitive advantage. You have a strategy and the strategy seeks to exploit ways in which you have an advantage over those in the sector with whom you compete

In some sectors this is becoming harder and harder, it is becoming difficult to differentiate in over crowded market places and bland conformity appears to be winning out (or at least that is the impression given).

In 2004 W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne defined this crowded market place as the ‘Red Ocean’ – the known market place, limited and bitterly fought over. Kim and Mauborgne proposed that there is another place in which to do business, the ‘Blue Ocean’ – the unknown and uncontested market space. Blue Ocean Strategy was born.

But the Blue Ocean isn’t for everyone. First and foremost it requires you to be innovative, without innovation you are not going to be able to swim away from the Red Ocean to the clear waters where competition no longer lurks.

What does a successful Blue Ocean Strategy look like? Think of Cirque du Soleil.

Cirque-du-soleil-brandCirque du Soleil was created in 1984, before anyone had even coined the term Blue Ocean Strategy. The circus trade was dying. It couldn’t compete with the growing number of alternative leisure activities available to children and animal rights protesters were beginning to win the battle to ban performing animals.

Competitive advantage was sought by having bigger big tops, more famous clowns, more grandiose shows but the public wasn’t being fooled; it was still the same show in (slightly) different clothes.

It would appear to be an act of lunacy, of corporate suicide, to decide to enter this marketplace but that is what Cirque du Soleil did. However, instead of competing in the overcrowded Red Ocean, they innovated, they created a whole new market for circus performers.

Instead of children they targeted adults, instead of big tops they used theatres and vast indoor venues, instead of being the same as everyone else they found ways not only to differentiate but to operate in new markets. Suddenly adults were queuing up to go to the circus and were happy to pay a lot more money for the privilege!

The key is to mix innovation with the identification of ignored or unchartered waters in the way Cirque du Soleil did. When identifying the Blue Ocean so clearly twenty years after the advent of Cirque du Soleil, Kim and Mauborgne were also kind enough to provide a kind of handbook with four guiding principles:

  1. Reconstruct market boundaries.

It sounds obvious but instead of continuing to hunt in the same crowded waters, look for where the competition isn’t operating. This might be among users in place of purchasers, it might be an ignored demographic, it could even be in service as oppose to product sales. Try anticipating rather than following trends, identify the emotional appeal over the practicality.

  1. Think ‘big picture’.

Yes, (good) strategy should always do this anyway but in reality many corporate strategies have become bogged down in budgets and spreadsheets. They over-rely on historical data and give too little consideration to common sense and intuition. When looking to the future think blank canvas; think what could we do?

  1. Look beyond existing demand.

Don’t only look at existing customers, look at non-customers. How can they become new and repeat customers? Cirque du Soleil did it by taking the circus to adults in adult venues. Calloway Golf found out that many of their ‘non-customers’ didn’t like playing golf because hitting the ball was too difficult and so designed a club with a bigger head.

  1. Get the strategic sequence right.

If the answer to any of the following questions is ‘no’ you need to rethink your strategy:

  • Buyer utility – does your idea offer exceptional buyer utility (not the same as exceptional technology)?
  • Price – does your pricing make you accessible to the mass of buyers?
  • Cost – can you hit your cost target and make a profit at your strategic price?
  • Adoption – Have you identified and are you addressing the hurdles to adoption up front?

The Blue Ocean is not for everyone but for those who are innovative and who can see a big picture it does offer opportunity. A word of warning though, just because your new ocean was blue does not mean it will always stay blue. When Karl Benz invented a replacement for the horse drawn carriage he was swimming from the red ocean to the blue. When Henry Ford saw the opportunity to mass produce and popularise the automobile he was doing the same. But no one today would suggest that either Mercedes Benz or Ford operate in Blue Oceans!

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global, 2011, 2016

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I was recently part of a group briefed to come up with some statements for a newly formed group of like-minded individuals and companies who needed to better define why they exist, who they are, what they stand for and where they are going. We were briefed to avoid words like ‘Mission’, ‘Values’ and ‘Vision’ as the group wishes to distance itself from standardised and/or bureaucratic norms. I suggested they might be ‘Adhocratic’ before needing to explain what I meant. The group loved it and have adopted it as part of those over-arching descriptors. However, the initial lack of understanding left me wondering whether it is a term which needs wider understanding……

The Centre for the Study of Adhocracy by Helen Johnson (2006)In short-hand, ‘adhocratic’ is the opposite of bureaucratic. While a good starting point, in long-hand, it is a bit more than that.

Being the opposite of bureaucratic, adhocratic is, in theory at least, unstructured, decentralised and responsive.

The term was first used as long ago as 1968 when Warren G Bennis, a US leadership theorist, proposed that the successful business of the future would rely on nimble and flexible project teams within a structure he called ‘adhocracy’.

Adhocracy then made fleeting appearances in theories ranging from “a new freeform world of kinetic organisations” (Future Shock, Alvin Toffler, 1970) to being one of four organisational structures defined by Henry Mintzberg in The Structure of Organisations (1979).

In my view the best description is “any form of organisation that cuts across normal bureaucratic lines to capture opportunities, solve problems and get results” stated in Robert Waterman’s 1990 book ‘Adhocracy.’

The fact so few have heard of, let alone employed Adhocracy suggests that Bennis read the future wrongly when he was, in part, spot on. However where Bennis suggested that adhocracy was the future for all successful companies, Mintzberg and Waterman saw that it is not a structure suited to many.

Local authorities for example are often slated for being bureaucratic when the truth is, they could not function effectively in any other way. It is when they become over bureaucratic, as they frequently do, that frustration arises.

Where adhocracy has, and continues to, come into its own is in the creative industries, in the new technologies and as creative departments within larger bureaucracies. However, even in those areas it appears ideally suited to, it can soon be the undoing of the organisation concerned if at the very least some form of guiding structure is not in place.

This ‘guiding structure’ creates two forms of adhocracy (sub-divisions):

  • The Operating Adhocracy which innovates and solves problems on behalf of clients (think advertising or software).
  • The Administrative Adhocracy which operates through a managed, project team structure in order to serve itself. NASA would probably not describe itself as adhocratic but in fact comes very close to being an Administrative Adhocracy.

It is often mistakenly thought that to be truly adhocratic the organisation will be so ‘freeform’ that it does not require direction or strategy. This is not the case however successful adhocratic strategy would be far lighter touch and flexible. Think Pareto’s Law as your rule of thumb and apply it to flexibility in strategy; a healthy bureaucracy would be 80% rigid and 20% flexible. Less than 20% and bureaucracy starts creeping into the over bureaucratic referred to above.

A strategy for an adhocracy would be the reverse; 20% rigid and 80% flexible becoming over adhocratic the more it creeps below the 20% ‘guiding’ rigidity.

Adhocracy is not for everyone; neither is bureaucracy and in reality most organisations will be positioned somewhere on a sliding scale between the two. And, as I often state, if strategy is to serve any/all of these organisations to their highest potential it must be highly personalised and avoid ‘templated-thinking’ at all costs.

It is not that adhocracies don’t exist, there are many of them operating extremely successfully in all parts of the world. It is that the term ‘adhocratic’ is poorly understood and therefore rarely applied.

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global, 2011-2016

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Online, in person and in print; there are any number of places you can seek advice on developing sound strategy but in the rush to get on with the planning, don’t overlook the importance of properly defining what it is you are planning for…..

alice-in-wonderland-caterpillar-and-hookahLewis Carroll’s novel ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ (commonly called Alice in Wonderland) was first published in 1865. It is generally considered to be one of the best examples of a genre known as ‘literary nonsense.’ And it is probably reasonable to think of it as nonsense as it tells the tale of a girl called Alice who falls down a rabbit hole and who then meets a number of strange anthropomorphic creatures. However, behind its enduring popularity lies Carroll’s ability to use logic to relay significant parts of his tale.

Consider the moment when Alice, lost, comes across a caterpillar:

“Excuse me sir,” Alice enquires, “could you tell me which road to take?”

Wisely the caterpillar asks, “Where are you going?”

Somewhat dismayed, Alice responds, “Oh, I don’t know where I’m going sir.”

“Well,” replies the caterpillar, “if you don’t know where you are going, it really doesn’t matter which road you take.”

The caterpillar imparts sound advice not only for Alice but for anyone involved in strategic planning. The temptation is to rush to the planning, to start describing the journey, the ‘how’ part of reaching the destination.

But pause a moment and consider the sage advice of the caterpillar; if you haven’t taken the time to get a clear picture of what success looks like, to properly define and describe your desired destination, then how can you accurately plan to ensure you arrive at your desired destination?

Having a strategy is not the key to success many think it is; the key lies in having a good strategy. And without a clearly defined destination, no strategy can be considered good.

But don’t take my word for it; ask a caterpillar!

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global, 2012-2016

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christopher robin and edward bearIt is probably not something that has occurred to many business owners and executives but, nonetheless, it is fair to say that when it comes to strategic planning, the vast majority are mimicking Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin.

Let me explain…..

But, before I do, a quick history of strategy. 2500 years ago Sun Tzu wrote about the concept and application of military strategy in ‘The Art of War.’ Then, for 2300 years or so strategy developed almost exclusively as a military tool. In the 19th Century sports people recognised the value of planned training and started exploring the concept of strategic planning, developing into the finely honed tool it has become for today’s world class performers.

Nineteenth and Twentieth Century businesses dabbled with planning and the mid-20th Century business even employed an early form of ‘strategic management’ however it was not until the release of H. Igor Ansoff’s ‘Corporate Strategy’ in 1965 than business began to properly embrace strategy.

Since then, many business owners and executives have developed and delivered strategy but have failed to grasp one of, if not the, primary reason(s) for having strategy. Strategy should be about the art/science of seeking and gaining a competitive advantage.

The military recognise this. Leading sports performers and their coaches recognise this. The majority in business either do not recognise or choose to ignore this.*

Instead they prefer to employ the ‘Insanity Planning’  method of developing strategy. And gaining competitive advantage means avoiding the insane.

  • Insanity Planning is doing the same thing today and tomorrow that you did yesterday and expecting a different result.
  • Insanity Planning is doing the same thing as your competition and expecting to beat them.
  • Insanity Planning assumes the competitive environment does not change and expects the plans of yesterday will yield the same results tomorrow.

And modern business loves Insanity Planning. Businesses seek templates of strategies developed by others; copy the plans of others expecting different results. Such insanity should have no place in the seeking of competitive advantage; of excellence; of high performance.

Quality strategy was, is and always will be personalised. Having the same (or similar) strategy as everyone else will not deliver competitive advantage.

Of course, historically, there have been times when the military have forgotten this important point in much the same way as business has. It usually takes a leader to come along and put in place strategy which avoids the insane to change thinking and remind people of the insanity of what they were doing. In hindsight, the new strategy might even look like common sense.

Such a leader was Horatio Nelson. In 1805, in the build up to the Battle of Trafalgar he recognised Insanity Planning for what it was (is). Had he not, I might be writing this article in French or Spanish.

Battle_of_Trafalgar_Poster_1805At the Battle of Trafalgar, Nelson’s fleet of 27 ships came up against a superior combined French and Spanish fleet of 33. The conventional, accepted strategy of the day was to line the ships of the two opposing forces up parallel to each other and, effectively, start shooting until a winner emerged.

Outgunned, Nelson recognised this template for strategy employed by everyone else for the insanity it was. He knew that if he engaged the opposition in this way the odds of winning were extremely long. Insanely long.

So he chose to employ a personalised strategy which would give his fleet competitive advantage; which avoided the insane. As the enemy lined up according to the accepted, shared, strategy template of the day, Nelson chose to sail towards them in single file and at right angles to their straight line. He evened the odds, caused confusion amongst his foe and the rest, as they say, is history.

Nelson recognised the need to personalise the strategy to HIS goal; HIS resources; HIS (and his sailors’) skills and abilities; HIS definition of success. In doing so, he gained competitive advantage.

But, I hear you ask, what does any of this have to do with Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh?

To explain that, I will quote Winnie the Pooh author AA Milne:

“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.”

When it comes to strategic planning for business who do you mirror?

Are you an Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson or a Winnie the Pooh?

*Just a small selection of the research to support this statement:

  • 84% of a sample of 3543 companies confuse Mission and Vision. 64% thought Mission and Vision are the same thing. 91% lacked concise Vision. (Forbes 2009).
  • 61% of CEOs believe inflexible corporate structure hampers successful delivery of strategy. 82% of companies design structure ahead of strategy. (Forbes 2009).
  • 47% of CEOs say their strategies are better described as matching industry best practices and delivering operational imperatives; in other words, just playing along. (McKinsey 2011)
  • 87% of companies plan strategy using only intelligence that they share with their competitors. (McKinsey 2011).
  • 79% of Company Executives do not understand the language of strategy yet still use it. (Business Review 2007).

Article first published July 2013.

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global, 2013, 2016

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Twitter @cowanglobal




Recent weeks have seen parts of the UK battered by storms leading to the worst flooding on record. Many of those suffering are the same families who have suffered in other floods in recent years and the question has to be asked; how could successive governments get flood prevention and flood defence strategies so wrong?

It is a recurring theme in my blogs, that of government incompetence when it comes to strategy. And it is not a party political issue, it is a cross-party one. The assumption (as in many other walks of life) is one of assumed expertise and, when things invariably end up going wrong, the excuses expose the flaws in the planning processes.

We could start by asking who in their right mind would think a deliberate plan of house-building on flood plains is a good one? Many spoke out at the time and now John Prescott’s grand, but flawed, design for partially solving the UK’s housing crisis has been exposed as a poor strategy based on finger crossing and hope rather than considered thought and informed research. And successive governments of all hues have continued Prescott’s flawed strategy so none can be absolved of blame.

Of course, many of the homes and businesses suffering pre-date recent governments and the policy of building on flood plains. They were therefore reliant on competent strategy for flood prevention and flood defence being in place.

On flood defence, despite the evidence of the past few years that things are getting worse, spending has been cut and planning has been of that flawed variety which considers only historical data, basing all decisions on that alone.

How  many times in the past few days and weeks have we heard the spokespeople for both government and Environment Agency tell us that the defences were strengthened and improved but were based on that once in a hundred years event and therefore were over-run by these more recent, worst ever floods?

Given we know the effects of climate change will lead to stormier, wetter conditions than ever before, shouldn’t we be asking; “why wasn’t climate change factored into your planning?” Shouldn’t we be asking why ALL available information including scientific predictions for future weather patterns were not factored in to planning for defences? Should we also be asking why our taxes were being spent on flood defences which were obsolete before they were started, let alone completed?

This is not advanced strategic planning for experts; this is Strategy 101 – be informed by ALL the available, relevant information; avoid the classic ‘schoolboy error’ of utilising only historical data.

And what of flood prevention? Experts have been telling us for years that strategies aimed at preventing floods ‘downstream’ need to be put in place upstream. We need agricultural land capable of holding excess water, we need more not fewer trees and foliage to assist in slowing the rate of flow and we need flood plains to be free to be just that – plains where flood water can sit, not places on which to build new homes.

It is a tragedy for those people whose homes and livelihoods have been hit yet again by severe flooding but questions must be asked as to the continued acceptance of incompetent politicians employing flawed thinking when designing strategy.

It is time our elected officials accepted their limitations instead of assuming non-existent expertise. The people who they represent deserve better but, instead, can only hold our breath and wonder as to where flawed government strategy will have negative effects next?

I fear this is far from the last time I blog about how politicians are a prime lesson in how to get strategy wrong. The only good news for the rest of us is that, inadvertently, they provide an exceptional study in how not to devise and execute quality strategy for those willing to look closely and learn.

© Jim Cowan, December 2015.


The refugee crisis currently unfolding across Europe has created much debate, anger, pity and more but little in the way of genuine, workable strategies to deliver a long-term solution as opposed to a quick fix.


The tragedy of young Aylan Kurdi has only made matters worse as understandable emotion has started clouding sound strategic thinking, for as harsh as it may sound, a lasting solution will only be found by clear minds understanding a highly complex situation and, importantly, learning from the many errors of strategy of recent history which led us to this point. Strategy, both good and bad, leads cause to effect and many of the effects caused by what we have, and are, seeing were predictable.

Here in the UK we have almost become immune to politicians launching policy without thinking through what the medium to long term effects of that policy may be (cause and effect). In short, they launch policy but ignore strategy, which is, of itself, bad strategy. Some, me included, would suggest politicians simply do not understand strategy leaving the rest of us to suffer the after effects of populist policy badly delivered.

This is important to understand for much of the hostility to housing refugees in the UK can be found in frustration founded in years of policies which have failed to provide the population with an adequate stock of social housing, numerous benefits cock-ups, an underfunded NHS and a perception of job shortages made worse by an influx of workers from other EU states.

Margaret Thatcher’s ‘Right to Buy’ policy, introduced at a time waiting lists were already growing, was extremely popular at the time. Incredible as it might sound, it has contributed to the social housing shortage. Every politician since has failed to grasp the issue as the gulf between what is needed and what exists has grown. The policy; Right to Buy, lacked a supporting strategy which ensured a continued, adequate housing supply for future generations. That shortage is now part of the fuel to the hostility as people question how we can take in refugees when, for example, 4500 former service men and women are homeless? And that is one small component of the complex strategic failures of successive UK governments, this is not a party political failure, it is a Westminster failure.

But in order to resolve the crisis, we need to look beyond simply a capability to take in (or not) refugees, we need to know that the flood can be reduced to a trickle and even stemmed. This is not a UK issue, nor even an EU issue, although its open border policy has definitely not helped; this is a global crisis born of poor strategy on a global scale. To comprehend how we fix the problem, we must understand some of its making, a highly complex making of which the following can only be a simplified summary for fear of turning an article into a book!

One strand of the problem’s history can be found in Beirut but the cause predates even that and can be traced back to western governments’ policy of hostility to the Palestinian cause. Note, not to support for Israel but to hostility for the Palestinian cause. The margins here are fine and within the refugee camps of southern Lebanon and Beirut displaced Palestinians could not understand how the west could consider Hamas to be a terrorist organisation. After all, they had insisted on free and fair elections in Gaza, elections won by Hamas by a majority western leaders only dream of, elections declared free and fair by independent observers. And yet, the west refused to do business with the elected government of Gaza and the populations of displaced Palestinians in Beirut could only scratch their heads at the injustice. Play the west’s game and still they ignore you, still they leave you isolated. The west’s strategy of demanding free and fair elections had back-fired and their devil had been elected. But rather than support the democracy they had insisted on, they changed strategy and looked the other way. Cause and effect; what were many of those Palestinians to think of the west and how might a handful react?

While most still saw their main cause that of Palestine, from this resentment of the west, ISIS was born as a very small minority took extreme misinterpretations of the Koran to create a new approach. However without other circumstances conspiring, that small group would have remained just that, a small group. But nature abhors a vacuum and the west was about to create a vast vacuum that ISIL could fill.

The civil war in Syria has multiple root causes ranging from downtrodden people mimicking the Arab Spring to drought driving farmers to the cities and many more besides. Those many causes collided and a civil war began.

A war weary west with armies depleted by budget slashing politicians and cautious after going into Iraq without just cause didn’t want to intervene without confirmed backing and so sought international agreement for support for the Syrian rebels. For strategic reasons of their own, China and Russia blocked the move and the west, instead of supporting, sat back to watch what might unfold.  Lacking clear strategy the west had been out thought and out-played by Russian leader Vladimir Putin who protected his nation’s arms sales in the region but, more importantly had tested the west’s resolve  for doing the right thing when it mattered ahead of planned interventions in Crimea and Ukraine (and, still possible, the Baltic States).

The rebels in Syria saw vocal support from the west without genuine support in the form of hardware if not military action. In a world where ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ into the void stepped a small, largely unheard of group from the refugee camps across the border in Lebanon. ISIL had a small, but strategically important toe-hold and used it to grow and spread their message of terror and hate to devastating effect. Before a strategically inept west realised what was happening, ISIL had grown beyond all recognition and was establishing their self-styled caliphate.

Still the west did not react and what had become a three or four sided civil war in Syria became an invasion of Iraq as the caliphate grew. The Kurds resisted, the Iraqis ran before regrouping, the Syrians continued fighting each other as well as the now powerful ISIL. Finally, too late, the west woke up but instead of employing a decisive strategy to remove ISIL from the region, decided on air strikes only. It was, and still is, too little too late.

In Syria, some people were already fleeing an oppressive regime and a war which was destroying once habitable cities but now they were also fleeing the terror of ISIL, fleeing beheadings, child rape and forced marriage in a warped interpretation of religion. In northern Iraq, people were fleeing the same.

The Lebanon faced a humanitarian crisis as a new generation of refugees arrived, not the Palestinians of recent history but Syrians and Iraqis. Jordan and Turkey too were faced with crisis. Before long those camps were having to cope with 4 million refugees and inside Syria and Iraq a further 3.5 million were displaced. It was a ticking bomb waiting to go off.

And here we are. What did our governments expect? Their short-sightedness, failed strategies and self-denial has led us to where we are. And where are is in the midst of the biggest refugee crisis since the 1930s and 1940s with an ineffectively opposed foe at the root cause (cause and effect) and no sign of an end.

Of course, it would be unrealistic to expect any sort of competent strategic thinking from the  very ‘leaders’ who brought us to where we are and so, short of the short-termism of where to place the refugees, no one is thinking, no one is planning to address the root cause of the problem. And without doing so, the refugees will keep coming. The estimated 800,000 on mainland Europe could double and treble in size within a few months because no one is looking over the horizon and asking, “how do we solve this problem?” Not the symptom, refugees, the problem, what they are fleeing.

The text books are full of various types of strategy coming under a vast range of terms but there are in reality only two types; issue based strategy and vision based strategy. Issue based to address an immediate problem before you can proceed, vision based to design a vision of a future you desire and then plan towards it.

This global problem requires global co-operation to find a solution. If Vladimir Putin chooses to block that co-operation then now is the time to proceed without him. The globe, all nations, need to agree to aid Europe in addressing the current refugee crisis (an issue based strategy). The globe, all nations, need to then agree a vision based strategy for addressing the issue at its heart – the annihilation of ISIL. If nations choose not to participate the rest must proceed without, because hand-wringing and argument won’t solve the issue, sound strategy properly deployed by competent leaders will.

Back in the UK, our armed forces are the smallest they have ever been. Currently, we don’t even have an aircraft carrier. It has been said, and I agree, that to protect peace you must be ready for war. Part of our own vision based strategy must be to rebuild our armed forces, it must provide affordable housing for all, an NHS which works, and benefits which provide a genuine safety net not a scroungers charter; it must deliver the land fit for heroes that was promised long ago.

There will be those who say we should avoid war at all costs; we should house as many refugees as it takes. While I applaud their humanity, I cannot agree. We either solve the crisis short-term and address its root cause medium to long term, or we will end up at war anyway because without destroying ISIL, that war is coming if it’s not already here.

Let there be no more Aylan Kurdis. Cold, clear, quality strategy will get us there, let’s not let emotion lead us further down this wrong path of simple, emotion driven solutions which we have been on for too long. Let’s not address a highly complex issue like it is a simple puzzle.

© Jim Cowan, September 2015.