What Toddlers Can Teach Us About Business Strategy


The world was recently captivated by 40 seconds of video that has been affectionately referred to as “BBC Dad” in many online circles. Professor and Korea-expert Robert E. Kelly is invaded by his two charming children, with plans of their own, while he courageously tries to move on with a BBC interview discussing the state of the political crisis in South Korea. In case you missed it, the video is the perfect example of a comedy of errors.

What makes this video resonate with so many is not just the humor it provides, but the light it sheds on what happens when the art of “business as usual” meets real life, and the challenges that can ensue. Kelly’s children’s actions certainly hit upon some shared experiences – as any parent will tell you – but what lessons can these little ones and this situation teach us?

The answer for businesses is a lesson in strategy, and the vision to see forward, address problems head on, and remain quick on your feet no matter what comes your way.

Don’t Ignore The Problem

Anyone who has ever tried to ignore and deflect a toddler demanding attention will attest it is no small feat. Yet, that is what Kelly tried to do. True, his lack of preparation in forgetting to lock the door led to the hysterical viral video, but at the heart of the issue was two kids who just wanted some attention and refused to be ignored. And, just like Kelly could not completely ignore his children, businesses cannot ignore day-to-day problems.

Often businesses get so wrapped up in day-to-day operations that they fail to see the small issues creeping up on them, or worse, they do not even have a strategy that highlights problem areas. When 50% of new U.S. companies fail in their first five years, even small problems cannot be ignored. Strategy, and specifically one that includes a holistic view of how the company is performing and shows risks, along with KPIs can give businesses the knowledge they need to address issues before they become greater problems that lead to a company’s demise.

Practice Strategic Swagger

When watching Kelly’s 4-year-old daughter Marion, one word comes to mind – swagger. Marion certainly had it as she marched into the room, exuding confidence even the Queen of Sheba probably couldn’t match. She knew where she wanted to go, who she wanted to see, and then acted on her plan much to the joy of the world and chagrin of her father.

Imagine as a business approaching every day planning with the same focus and attitude. We don’t often equate strategy with swagger, but a well-laid plan with a clear strategic vision can give businesses a new kind of swagger within the competitive marketplace. A vision statement can act as the catalyst for all future planning, a basis on which to build an organizational foundation for assigning tasks, and also serve as a strategic map to execute goals. Alternately, a clear vision statement can arm companies with the confidence and swagger they need to explain their purpose to the outside world.


Kelly had two choices when faced with the unexpected situation his kids created – adapt and keep going or fall apart. Instead of giving up, he quickly apologized and moved forward while strategically trying to mitigate the damage his children’s interruption had caused. Businesses can learn from that example.

Adapting to challenging situations is part of every business, and the ability to be successful depends on making quick decisions at the moment while remaining agile. Developing a business strategy is as much about having a plan for when things go right as when they go wrong. A good strategy provides key insights into pain points, where projects are falling behind, and connects communication channels so obstacles can be discussed and overcome. A well-planned business strategy can give businesses the agility to plan both short and long term and move forward on the road to success.

While “BBC Dad” and his toddlers will likely fade into the chronicles of famously hilarious viral videos, the lessons that business can learn from his toddlers and what happened should not. Every business can learn to think and act more strategically, and in so doing, prepare themselves for any kind of eventuality.

If you would like more information on how StrategyBlocks can help your company craft a vision statement, access strategic health and risk factor assessments, and promote greater company communication and more, please contact us today.