Strategy, Shmategy

There are two modes of thinking about strategy.

One is to view it as the sine qua non of all business, the other is to scoff and say it’s no longer a valid approach in today’s rapidly changing world (for obvious reasons, I am ignoring those who couldn’t tell strategy from grandma’s dentures if their life depended on it.)

Which camp am I siding with?

The first.

Why?

Simply because in my book, crisis or fast changing environments are not game changers. As one of my former teachers recently said (in a presentation I am urging you not to miss), “Crisis is an accelerator of time”, and when time is compressed a quick path to action is mighty handy.

Part of the reluctance to acknowledge the role of strategy lies in misunderstanding the term.

In its simplest incarnation, strategy is just the way a company chooses to approach its environment. It’s a HOW.

We usually relate strategy to a purpose, namely WHY the company exists and deals with that particular environment, and to a goal, that is WHAT the company is trying to accomplish.

There are many components of strategy, from the business model to, if marketing strategy is under scrutiny, positioning. 

But none of these components is a timeline, chart or diagram. Strategy is not, as many mistakenly believe, a series of interconnected actions, steps and tasks or the resources allocated to them. Those constitute a plan, and are just tools. A strategy process will most often produce not just the strategy, but also such a plan, and it indeed can lack flexibility and become obsolete with rapid change. But the plan’s demise does not invalidate the strategy. I would argue that crisis and change make strategy all the more important. In the absence of certainty, all businesses can rely on is principles on which to base their response. And that’s strategy: a framework and fundament for behavior.

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Filed under Management thought, Strategies and campaigns

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