To the degree that it is human nature, it is understandable.

On the other hand, to the degree that it is a resource drain and one of the mistakes we insist on making over and over, it is a bane to effective business development.

“It” is our insatiable thirst and relentless search for a Silver Bullet.

From social media to the latest technology, from what’s hot in creative execution to the flavor-of-the-month methodology or consultant, our hope that a tool, idea or insight is the key, is one of the great impediments to game-changing marketing success. So powerful is the seduction, that focus is replaced by fits and restarts with every new “opportunity” — real, or imagined.

Yes, even the real opportunities can dramatically impede progress. The fact that they can result in measured success often only reinforces a behavior; it may even become viewed as an asset. Flexible, opportunistic – even (mistakenly) entrepreneurial are words used to characterize a willingness (read tendency) to chase opportunities.

Sure…in the absence of strategic direction, being athletic enough to turn on a dime in pursuit of new opportunity may well be the best option. But don’t mistake it for a Strategy (with a capital S).

And in those moments when we wonder at the advances made by competitors, or are mystified by an inability to leverage investments in business development, consider these two simple tenets:

  1. Focus wins.
  2. An important measure of strategy is whether it facilitates focus, empowering an organization to say “No” to the endless stream of new opportunities..

The fact is that absent unlimited resources, few organizations are really flexible enough to react to every great opportunity that comes along. Before we alter strategy in order to take advantage of something too good to pass up, consider the implication; while we might call it opportunistic, we may have a business development strategy (with a very small “s”) that is little more than waiting (and hoping) for the next opportunity.

Silver bullets are rare.