My sincere apologies for being late with my post this week! Just imagine today is Tuesday and we’re all good.  I’m going to take a break from Behavioural Economic tactics for now, because I think we need some comic relief. On a side note, I hope you can see that the majority of my posts so far has been about understanding PEOPLE. Why? Because if you don’t understand their (and sorry to break it to you) YOUR inner workings, limitations and context, you won’t be a good strategists. Period. We’ll chat some more next week. Back to another story about my strategic handicap.

I wanted a bookcase. A beautiful, white painted, proper built-in wood book case, that’s built in such a way that one side would hide the sliding door in our study. I can see the confusion and complexity of this DELIGHTFUL “WANT” project of mine just writing these words…yet, i couldn’t see it when I was in it. As the husband (who I love dearly) was not really into this whole bookcase thing (probably cause he realised the mammoth task that would lay before HIM), I decided I will do it myself. How difficult can it be right?! You just screw some wood together and tadaaaa! Bookcase done. My ‘strategy’ was flawed from the start as you can see.

A weekend project turned into a Ben-Herr (for the youngsters: it is one of the longest movies in history). The start was awesome! I had a REALLY nice guy at the hardware store who helped me work out exactly how the wood should be cut before I took it home. See easy! I was planning on loading it in my small little car when I realised I almost needed a TRUCK! OK I’m exaggerating, I needed the bakkie.

Got the bakkie, fetched the wood, all chuffed with myself and then the first drama happened. I didn’t realise the wood was as tall as the roof. Yeah I know. Next thing I know I’m driving over a one of the “plastic bottle” toys of the dogs. No biggie, it’s just plastic. Got out, looked for the bottle…no bottle. Checked that all the dogs were there (couldn’t take another death!)…all there. And then I looked up. It was the gutter. I bent it upwards, completely out of shape. The husband said he’ll fix it, thank goodness.

Next miss-calculation in my strategy. The wood pillars on the sides were too tall. As I wanted to suprise my husband with my fantastic handy-work I decided I’ll cut the wood with the woodsaw myself. With latex gloves and a welding helmet (I couldn’t find the safety gear) I hacked off some of the wood. Decided I’ll fix it once its up. Another flaw in my strat. I proudly drill holes and screw in all the screws of the frame, just to realise…there’s no space to screw in the shelves as the bookcase is wall to wall. I have to unscrew EVERYTHING and build each wall’s bookshelf separately. Crises averted.

I can go on and on and on with all the things that went wrong on my little pet project which I strategise so nicely on a little piece of paper. Every curve ball forced me to think about my plan differently. I had to get creative and come up with solutions for things I didn’t even know would be a problem! How the hell do I get the fake backing longer and wider as it’s cut too small…how do I fix the wrong drill holes…and the list will go on and on.

It made me realise once again that there are a variety of strategies to answer a specific problem, but more importantly, it should always be flexible and adjustable when new problems arise. Don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying change EVERYTHING all the time. My bookcase still came out exactly as I pictured it BUT the plan on how to get there changed constantly as I ran into different obstacles I had to overcome to make my dream a reality.

in a nutshell: choose the strategy that will best answer the problem at hand and make changes to it when challenges arise. But my biggest lesson? Never under-estimate that which looks easy, BUT don’t underestimate YOURSELF when you are in the thick of things either! Just look at my beautiful bookcase and I of ALL people built it!! I didn’t always think I could and yet I did. I’m still flabbergasted that I did that to be honest! But I did.

So here’s to bookcases and strategies that you underestimated, but more importantly, here’s to the creative solutions you come up with along the way.

Till next week.