Tonight my dad and I replaced the toilet seat in one of the bathrooms at our house. It was a perfect show or manly teamwork to end a great Father’s Day. Putting the new toilet seat on was no problem. But getting the old seat off proved to be damn near impossible. I tried a wrench and pliers and old fashioned brute force and got nowhere. The nut just wouldn’t come off the screw.

By the time my dad joined the effort I had worked so hard, I had broken the skin on my knuckles and bright red blood was smearing all of the porcelain white surface of the toilet. Taking one look at the situation my dad pointed out my futility, “You need to pop the caps on the top and the seat and use a screw driver…the screw is turning because you aren’t holding it in place from above.”

Sure enough, within five minutes I had the old seat off.

This is a great example of why strategy matters more than execution. I’m about the clumsiest person I know when it comes to handiwork. But my execution wasn’t what was holding me back in this situation. I had the wrong strategy. Had I continued to hammer away at the nut and the screw, I would have worked for another half an hour, lost a pint of blood and gotten nowhere. With a simple shift of strategy the job was done (by the same clumsy executor) in five minutes.

Strategy matters more than execution in all situations. Especially business. Starting a business with the wrong strategy is like setting sail across the ocean, one degree off course. You can be the best sailor in the world but you still won’t end up at your destination.

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