Strategy: the alternative to spaghetti

Red blocks with letters spelling STRATEGY, INNOVATION, SUCCESS, PLANThrowing spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks doesn’t actually work.

Supposedly a test to see if the spaghetti is cooked (if it sticks, so the theory goes, it’s done), it fails miserably. On the one hand, if your spaghetti is so well done that it actually does stick to the wall, it’s overdone for a good meal. And on the other hand, whether it sticks or not, it makes a mess. Either way, you’re likely to burn your fingers.

The term has become a metaphor for attempting random ideas to achieve an objective – the exact opposite of a well-thought-out strategic plan.

Whatever your objective may be – whether it’s a big project for your team, a shift to work-from-home for all, a leadership development plan for a distributed employee population, or simply making a decent spaghetti dinner – you’re better off stopping to think before you throw spaghetti – metaphorical or real – at the wall.

What are you actually trying to achieve?

One of the reasons spaghetti-throwing is so seductive is that we often aren’t clear about the actual objective.

If your definition of success for this effort – leadership plan or spaghetti dinner – is fuzzy, it’s no wonder you’re defaulting to random ideas.

What’s the goal?

How can you get there?

Work backwards. What do you need? What options do you have? What are the potential obstacles? What milestones do you need to meet in order to make the deadline?

Which path looks best?

Experimentation is not the same as spaghetti-throwing.

Experimentation is a well-thought-out process for testing an idea or option.

Pick the best of your potential options. Obtain the needed resources. Move forward.

Do you need to pivot?

Just because you’ve developed a strategy for achieving your goal doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to work.

Your dinner guest may be on a gluten-free diet, or allergic to the tomatoes you were planning for the sauce.

Your emerging leaders may be in different time zones, or have child-care responsibilities that disrupt your planned delivery schedule.

There’s no shame in realizing that some aspect of your plan isn’t going to work.

Don’t ignore the problem, and don’t revert to spaghetti-throwing.

Think. Revise. Adapt your plans. And move forward.


If you liked this post, you might like “Sandwiches or salad? Goals matter!” (Food reference is a coincidence…)

Curious about a leadership development plan for your distributed employees? Let’s start a conversation!


gljudson Strategic thinking