It's taken alot of years to get the American approach to the mess in Iraq on the right track. The "surge" was actually finally using the approach invented by professional military commanders, instead of the Plan generated at the top. The new approach is based on the principle of "protect the civilian population." It is just common sense.
My guess about why smart people at the top made such stupid mistakes is that they were too busy being busy and lived in a bubble where everyone told them they were right. When you're too busy being busy and everyone is afraid to tell you you're making big mistakes, the chances of screwing up royally is much greater. If you don't have time to think, you usually don't think.
The real world happens on the ground, every day, day after day, week after week, month after month. It's not exciting. It's about focusing and persistence. Persistence while being busy being busy usually doesn't happen.
Every shop keeper understands this. Every sales person understands this. Walmart understands this. Google understands this. P&G understands this. The professional military understands this. Warren Buffet understands this. The Obama administration seems to understand this. Children live in now. Grownups live in the past, the present and the future.
Marketing plans usually have the same problem. The launch and planning and design is exciting. But the real world happens on the ground, every day, day after day, week after week, month after month. It's not exciting. It's about focusing and persistence.
Check out the photos in this week's Time magazine. The cover story is Obama's 100 days. They have lots of good pictures of what thinking looks like. It's not about having meetings.