In July, the Chilean port city of Iquique received 100th of an inch of rain with 10 mph winds. For most of us, we wouldn’t even notice the event let alone it deter our everyday life. But for this city the conditions resulted in roof damage on over 4,000 homes and wide spread power outages. You see, Iquique is at the heart of the Atacama Desert and the average rain fall per year is only 0.02 inches. The Chilean people of Iquique don’t think about or plan for much rain. Homes are covered with wood, plaster, or cardboard and many do not have a slope. The roofs are designed to protect inhabitants from the sun rather than rain.
This story really caught my attention, in the context of strategic thinking and planning, because here was an example of strategy being very situational. While, it seems that they could have strategically prepared for this type of scenario, the normal situation indicated that the optimal strategy for building homes is to keep out the sun and not necessarily the rain. I am certain, for the many who were caught in these difficult circumstances, it could be argued that they applied the right strategies for the environment and any other actions would have been over strategizing, even extravagant.
It is difficult to find the optimal strategic zone where you don’t get caught in wasteful over-strategizing or risky under-strategizing. What I have learned is that you have to apply your best information and knowledge to each situation and commit to the strategy that seems to have the right balance. And if conditions change, well you just respond accordingly and know you did your best.