Friday, May 11, 2007

"Stay The Course" Has Given "Stay The Course" A Bad Name

It Used To Be A Rallying Cry, Now It's Become A Cry For Help

By David Miranda

The declarative statement "stay the course" has always been associated with a forceful and confident leader - a rallying cry to the "troops". Today, however, the phrase has become a sound bite by executives who use it as a substitute for a relevant strategy. In this case "stay the course" translates into arrogance, stupidity or a little of both. Arrogance and stupidity, the offspring of ego, are the enemies of positive outcomes.

Historical and current examples abound, including two of significance.

The Captain of the ill-fated Titanic was well aware of the threat of icebergs in the North Atlantic. Yet, in attempting to set a speed record on the ship's maiden voyage, he ordered the ship to "stay the course" and proceed at full speed on a moonless night.

Today, "stay the course" is associated with the Administration's Iraq strategy. Despite the fact that the majority of Americans are demanding a different course of action; despite that fact that the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group recommended a different course of action; despite the fact that the Democrat-controlled Congress want a different course of action - the President's mantra was "stay the course". The President has since "retired" the phrase.

The lessons here are clear. Different and changing circumstances demand a different course of action to achieve a positive outcome. Leaders cannot simply "will" success and hope is not a strategy.

Such is the case in marketing. If something is not working, find a better solution and find it fast.

Oh yeah, for those of you that are using "stay the course" as a rallying cry in lieu of a better solution, cease and desist.

You are giving the term a bad name.