Gonzo Strategy – Business Advice From the Sports Desk
A tribute to Hunter S. Thompson*
In a series of six blogs, I will draw some strategic planning advice from an unusual source: The Gonzo journalism of the late American author, Hunter S. Thompson. Enjoy!
America destroys its heroes. I am surprised that when reading most strategic business planning literature and posts, culture receives a short shift. Much is made of cultural awareness if you want to go offshore or provide aid as an NGO. Bipartisan business associations abound. Likewise indigenous employment rightfully receives such focus. So, what about your culture?
One of my favourite and early works of Hunter S. Thompson was his pilgrimage to Ernest Hemingway’s final hometown. Thompson greatly admired Hemingway, so it was in the true sense, a pilgrimage.
After leaving Cuba, Hemingway spent some short, sparse years of decline in Idaho, in chronically ill health, shunning admirers and largely going unrecognised. Thompson attempted to find solid sources to bring some definition to these final years. But he found only unreliable ghosts and changing myth. Hunter concludes his article lamenting how America destroys its heroes.
It is hard not to disagree – whether it is self-destruction or not is moot. Charles Lindbergh, F Scott Fitzgerald, the Kennedys, OJ, Prince or Thompson’s most reviled politician Richard Nixon are all uniquely American tragedies. Thompson provided an insight into modern America and an insight into his own culture. Many non-Americans view Thompson as being unpatriotic. But that’s not the case. He was deep in his convictions; he saw the corruption of the American Dream as something worth fighting against.
So what are our insights into Australian culture? What strengths and weaknesses do we possess? These cultural bias and characteristics will extend into your strategic plan. Many of these will be strengths, others not so much. Having worked with many other nationalities during my time with the UN, I can confirm we have both. For instance, we don’t destroy our heroes, but we don’t mind chopping down tall poppies. What does that mean if we want to attract unique talents and skills? You need to be careful of generalisations and fads (the current fad of disruption being one I will pick apart another time). What is the internal culture? I can guarantee it will be different from your eagle view as a manager. Working on a heightened level of cultural awareness will take your strategy further than you thought possible, maybe even to the ‘edge’.
Jason Thomas is the Founder of de Montaigne Strategic Planning, which provides robust strategic planning and training services to small to medium-sized enterprises, not-for-profit organisations and government departments.
He has over 30 years’ experience in senior leadership, operational and planning roles across the military, public and private sectors. In addition, Jason holds numerous degrees and qualifications including Gold Mastery Certification with the Haines Centre for Strategic Management.