What Can a Three Year Old Teach You About Strategy?

My daughter came home from nursery this afternoon singing a song about a skeleton called “Ezekiel’s dry bones”.

The lyrics go like this:

The toe bone connected to the heel bone,
The heel bone connected to the foot bone,
The foot bone connected to the leg bone,
The leg bone connected to the knee bone,

Oh, hear the word of the Lord!

It isn’t just a song, there are a whole host of dance moves that go with it as well.  My daughter was having a whale of a time showing me.   I remember learning it when I was younger

Another thing I learnt when I was younger  was  something called a MOST analysis (very dodgy mental leap there, you will have to jump with me and it will become clear later), it is a way of evaluating how strong a business strategy is.  MOST stands for Mission, Objective, Strategy and Tactics:


This is what your organisation is there for, the thing you do for your customers.  It is invariably written down as a mission statement.  As an example, the mission of this site is to help you improve your operation.


These are the key tasks that need to be ticked off if you are to achieve your Mission.  Sticking with my example, one of my objectives is to increase the numbers of readers of this site, it is a fundamental task if I want to achieve my mission.  If people don’t read what is here, it can’t possibly help them.


These are the ways that your objectives are met.   A strategy will take you from A to B.  From where you are now to fulfilling your objective.  One of my strategies to increase readership is to provide thought provoking material.


The things that are done to achieve the strategy, or in this case writing a post about MOST analysis and adding a truly dreadful You Tube video.

The whole thing is a pyramid, one mission, a handful of objectives, several strategies and multiple tactics.

The Mental Leap

The obvious bit, and all that MOST analysis does, is the bit that is usually missing.  Like Ezekiel’s dry bones the Mission, Objectives, Strategy and Tactics should all be connected together.

If you write down all the different levels of your business plan: Mission, Objective, Strategy and Tactics they should clearly reinforce each other and nothing should be missing.  Otherwise your actions will be disjointed, counter-productive and misguided.  Or, to put it another way, your business plans will be what is unkindly referred to as strategic guff.

As an aside, there is a big difference between developing a plan and implementing a plan.  Please remember that before you write anything in the comments box.

Read another opinion

Image by Vectorportal


  1. Hi James,
    Simple but powerful process for articulating what an organisation is all about and how it is going to bring that about. My fear is that the ‘connectedness’ that you talk about is where many fall down particularly the connection between strategy and objectives and tactics and strategy.

    Would you agree?


  2. Hello James

    Excellent post – I like the way that you have illustrated with the example of your own/this blog.

    I notice that you have noticed and pointed out the Achilles heel – the lack of integration of the parts so that the whole ends up as something other than a dog’s dinner!

    all the best

  3. Byron Brandt says:

    Hello James,

    While I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of MOST analysis before, I think I’d been doing this somewhat naturally.
    So I appreciate your making this concept consciously clearer to me.

    Strategy and Tactics while often used have often left me wondering what the writer or speaker meant in their usage of the words.

    So I’ve looked the definitions up multiple times and written down the definitions that others have used.

    The first ones below by Chet Holmes (recently deceased) are my favourites though for their clarity. Clarity to me anyway.

    I like these definitions because I don’t want to just ask or tell people what to do, I want me and them to have a Reason Why, as that is much more motivating, and helps them make further decisions, when new situations arise, even if they weren’t previously told what to do in that situation.

    Tactic – What you Do? A sales call. Any interaction with a customer.
    Strategy – What You Want to Achieve by What You Do? What is that tactic to add up to?
    ~ Chet Holmes and Jay Abraham – PEQ Challenge Conference Call

    Strategy: A statement of your goal and a description of the process you’ll follow to achieve that goal.

    Tactics: The specific actions used to accomplish your strategic goal.

    Strategy means that you have determined, in advance, an ultimate goal you would like to achieve for each tactic.

    Tactics are the things you do to achieve your goal.
    A tactic is a marketing effort such as: a yellow page ad, a newsletter, a speaking engagement, a sales call, a trade show, a newspaper ad, a meeting with a new client, etc.

    All the Best,

    Bryon Brandt

  4. Thank you. It’s very clever analysis yet very simplified in it’s way that it can be done when remembered easily with this very good acronym MOST.

    Thanks once again for sharing and very well done to you.


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