Business today is focused on action. And this “bias for action” leads many to believe the idea that doing something, anything, is better than doing nothing.

It’s certainly true that nothing can be accomplished without doing things. That starting work and acting vigorously, rather than waiting until you have all the answers and/or perfect solutions, is indeed an appropriate approach. Learn by doing and via real-world contexts and results, and continuously optimize.

However, is action better than inaction? Not always. I find that often organizations create strategies and then move on to activation, as if they are separate endeavors. When this happens, the doing can become reactive, transactional, and disengaged from strategy. Strategy and execution have come out of balance.

For example, a marketing team can set out, with good intentions and purpose, to create, say, a Content Marketing program. However, they then begin to create content without the necessary structure, rigor, and intentionality that’s needed. The actions become reactive and rote, vs. strategic and purposeful.

This can become a problem, because your team is spending time, energy, and resources on the wrong things. They won’t be able to define why they’re doing them, how they’re helping, and what to do next. And they won’t have physical or mental energy to apply to additional work that might be of greater value to the organization.

In these situations, it’s likely that the best thing to do is to stop the action, stop the doing. Take time to create better frameworks, structures, roadmaps, and filters for your actions that are designed to lead to your goals. And then begin to act with greater intentionality. It is only then that your action beats inaction.

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