Business Strategy Navigation – Part 8

The Problem of Strategy

“Strategy” has become a priority for all intelligent managers. Strategy, however, is slippery, unwilling to be quickly defined or easily grasped.

Indeed, in his tome on strategic planning, Henry Mintzberg offers four disparate but prevailing definitions of “strategy:”[i]

  • a plan, a “how,” a means of getting from here to there;
  • a pattern in actions over time;
  • position; that is, [strategy] reflects decisions to offer particular products or services in particular markets;
  • perspective, that is, vision and direction.

An execution plan approach adamantly rejects separation of these strategic elements from each other. It takes each of these definitions into account, combining assessment of current position, dreams of the future, and the “how” of implementation. And it offers an added bonus: serendipity. By planning for uncertainty and encouraging flexibility, strategy undoes its more stringent definitions and replaces them with a strong but flexible model.

It is this business strategy model that is critical to the success of any adventuresome organization seeking to explore and gain a competitive advantage to expand its market. Only with a clear strategy and well-formed strategic plan for its achievement can true innovation, momentum, and accomplishment be attained.

[i] Fred Nickols, “Strategy: Definitions and Meaning,” (2000).

Other resources:

Robert Jonas, “Business Strategy?” Customer Service Management (May/June 2000: 33-36).

Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, The Strategy-Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the New Business Environment (Boston: Harvard, 2001).

Kris Bruckner, et al, “What is the market telling you about your strategy?” McKinsey Quarterly Online (1999).

Tim Laseter, et al, “The Last Mile to Somewhere.” strategy + business Online (1Q 2001).

Darrell Rigby, “Management Tools 2001: An Executive’s Guide,” Bain & Co. Home Page (2001).