The Innovation Blog

Yogi Berra's sage advice for companies on Vision, Mission & Strategy

Posted by Jay Terwilliger on September 25, 2015

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”


As I reflect on the sad news of the passing of Yogi Berra, I’m amazed at how often quotes, attributed to him (“I never said most of the things I said”), have real insight buried within the humor of his malapropisms.

For the purposes of growth through innovation, a guiding vision of the future is a Critical Success Factor for businesses seeking to win in that future.  I often paraphrase the Cheshire Cat to Alice saying “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”  But Yogi’s quote may be even more telling when you go beyond the obvious.

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”  Consider any business or brand, who should have had a long, productive and innovative life, but instead fell from either market leadership, or even completely off the map.  Major businesses and brands like Polaroid for instant photography; Blockbuster for movie rentals; Nokia for mobile phones; Oldsmobile; Woolworth’s discount store; or Border’s for book retailing. 

One could easily see that Polaroid had opportunities to migrate chemical instant photography to digital, Blockbuster to migrate to digital/internet rentals, Borders to create an Amazon like book retail business, etc.  They weren’t careful about where they were going, and they didn’t get there.

That’s what I see in Yogi’s quote.  If you don’t have a vision for your future, you may either no longer be relevant, or may no longer exist in the future.  To survive and thrive long-term, you need more than a solid business model today… you need to understand how the world is changing, and what you need to do to prepare for and ultimately compete in the future market.



Here’s to the companies, the CEOs the Chief Strategy Officers and all the corporate leaders that understand strategy is no longer about managing a business, it’s about winning with change.  And to do that “be careful about where you are going.”


Topics: Future, Future Pull, strategic innovation, strategy, Strategic Goals, Vision