Strategy Gone Wrong

On May 11th, the Wall Street Journal published an article about JP Morgan’s $2 Billion dollar trading loss that occurred over the previous six weeks.  To the average investor, this may look like a series of bad moves and investments for the company, but the CEO of JP Morgan Chase made a very direct statement about the whole debacle.  His statement should cause every organization to pause and think about their strategic initiatives.

On a conference call with investors, CEO James Dixon made the following comment regarding the bank’s strategy.  It was “flawed, complex, poorly reviewed, poorly executed and poorly monitored.”  This statement is a huge pill to swallow for any leader, for any organization, let alone one that just lost $2 billion.

Everyone, at some point in their career will be hit by a rogue wave, bad decision, or bad strategy that will catch you off guard and knock you off your feet.  It is not a matter of IF it will happen, but WHEN it will happen.  The key here is to be vigilant, aware of your environment, and anticipate future scenarios.


As we look at this example, forget about your personal opinion about company or government policies in the financial sector.  Rather than criticizing Mr. Dimon, the Government, or the people involved, take time to hold up the mirror and evaluate your own strategy.  As you do, consider the following:

  1. Do key leaders in the organization truly understand the organization’s strategic vision?  Ask them if they can articulate it.  If not, watch out for the unexpected wave of pain.
  2. Are key leaders empowered to plot and execute strategy within their own area of responsibility – business units, departments, or functional areas?  Is it linked and does it support the grand corporate strategy?
  3. Do leaders, as well as individual contributors understand how their competitive strategies create value and growth for the organization?  Is there a culture of strategy, execution and implementation?
  4. Are you conducting periodic reviews of the strategy within your own area of responsibility?
  5. What issues will shape your future and should be acted upon?

By taking a little time each week to formulate, critique, and adjust your strategy, you will be consciously setting a future that enables you to add value to the products and solutions you offer to customers, shareholders, or stakeholders.

For over 35 years, CMOE has been helping organizations create a competitive advantage through strategy creation and measurement of strategic actions.  To learn more, visit our website at

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About the Author

Chris Stowell

Christopher Stowell is currently serving as CMOE’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing where he works with multi-national organization to develop their people. His special interests lie in coaching teamwork, strategy, e-learning, and assessment design, and delivery. Chris has a special talent in helping companies assess their organizational effectiveness and identifying key issues and opportunities in order to advance their performance and achieve long term results. Additionally, he has extensive experience in designing, coordinating, and facilitating customized adventure based experiential training events for high performance teams.