“Just Keep Swimming” – The Dory Strategy

Remember the scene in Finding Nemo when Dory loses the goggles that would help them in their quest?

Instead of dealing with the problem Dory ignores it, pretends it hasn’t happened choosing instead to “just keep swimming.”


Over the years we have worked with businesses that employed what I call the “Dory strategy.”

For example, I recently met with the MD of a company to explore how we were going to assist with their growth strategy.  In answer to the question “what are the main challenges facing your business right now” the MD replied:

We’ve achieved a lot and are working really hard to move the business forward.  We’ve got some great ideas for the future and I’m confident that we can achieve our growth plans.”

While this was great, it didn’t answer the question and we know from experience that, although it is painful, unless companies started with a “warts and all” diagnosis and face up to their real problems,  they stumble into the “Dory strategy” without even realising it.

The good news is that the MD agreed to a thorough diagnostic and guess what it revealed?  Yes, you guessed.

Despite the fact that turnover had increased and more people had been employed, the company had some major challenges that, if left unchecked, would not only impact their growth plans, but could eventually lead to their demise.  These problems included:

  1. reduced profitability – even though turnover had increased
  2. conflict and power struggles between the executive directors
  3. lack of agreement about strategic priorities and direction
  4. low morale and motivation amongst the staff
  5. increased competition in their markets

But one thing that the MD was absolutely right about – they were all working very hard, there was a lot of activity and new initiatives were being generate at break-neck speed.  They kept swimming.

Although they were were swimming and swimming hard, it didn’t change the fact that they they had lost the goggles!

This isn’t unusual by any means and it isn’t always incompetence that leads to companies employing the “Dory strategy.”  Knowing what you want to achieve and having the ability and resources to achieve it are two different things.

Once the Directors got over the initial shock about what was really happening in the business, they were ready to face their problems head on and soon developed and implement a growth strategy that saw them achieve:

  1. increased turnover
  2. increased profit margins
  3. resolution of the conflicts amongst the directors
  4. enhanced staff engagement, ‘buy in’ and commitment to delivering the growth strategy

The next priority is increased market share and they’re addressing that by focusing on developing their innovation skills in the first instance.

If you find that you have been employing “the Dory strategy” for business growth, then maybe it’s time to stop swimming, find your goggles and refocus on the critical few things that will have the biggest impact on the growth of your business.


Barbara Armstrong is a Certified business consultant, author of Get Fit for Growth: 12 Fundamental Principles to Unleash the Growth Potential of Your Business and provides tailored business growth consulting, training and coaching.

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