What is a Strategy?

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What is a Strategy?
Augusto Carreira, Partner, Portugal

Unless a definition of "a strategy" is agreed upon by those who will have to use it and act by it, no "strategic planning" of whatever flavor will do. Yet, it is an illusion to fancy that one doesn't need a strategy. Let's make it clear. I define a strategy as:
"a timed response to a challenge (opportunity or problem)".
The outcome of a strategy will be a set of policies that the company follows.
So, whatever one is doing today is the follow-up of decisions taken in the past and these embody a strategy because the future of the company derives from that.
A strategy can be engineered in the sense that its outcomes can be specified and it can be designed. A strategy lowers the uncertainty to manageable levels and, after implementation, what's left is a set of policies that materialize in procedures (almost zero uncertainty). This is valid for opening a new facility abroad or to establish a new bonus plan.

Strategy for the Definition Part
Sudheendra, Consultant, India
Strategy derives from the Greek "στρατηγία" (strategia), meaning "office of general, command, generalship (source: Wikipedia)". It is a view from the stratos level i.e. from the cloud level to ground level.
This view provides an opportunity to understand both the ground realities as well as the hidden and clouded opportunities and threats a business could face.
Finally at this level direction is important and anticipatory vision is essential.

What is a Strategy?
Mellacheruvu Adi Saasthry , Director, India
Augusto: When an entrepreneurial decision is taken about the future considering the given situation and the available resources that is a Strategy. Thus there are "What", "When", "Where", "Who" and "How" elements involved.
No doubt a strategy is being monitored and gradually will change its shape as per the external interacting forces.

What is a Strategy?
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
In my view, a simple way of defining a strategy is to view it as the outcome of a strategy process.
For a discussion of what is strategy (as a process) see also the discussion: What is strategy?

What is a Strategy? Definition
Alan Kennedy, Strategy Consultant, Canada
Research tells us strategy implementation suffers because strategy understanding and communication within many organizations is not as good as it should be. I think the reason for this is the lack of a common understanding of the term, strategy. This a central theme of my book, The Alpha Strategies: Understanding Strategy, Risk, and Values in Any Organization.
I define a strategy as a choice of action. There are two characteristics that distinguish strategies from each other. One is the intended duration of implementation. For example, "Are we talking about a 1 year or a 2 year implementation period?" The second characteristic is the activity that is the central focus of the strategy. For example, "Are we talking about marketing or about sales?"
Using this approach, we can clearly identify what we want to discuss.

Strategy as a Noun...
John Henry, Manager, United States
A strategic plan, is a plan arrived at utilizing a process (strategy).
A strategic outcome, is an agreed upon desired outcome arrived at by a process.
A strategic organization, is an organization that looks at the desired result before they begin the process, the action. They put goals and process ahead of crisis and firefighting whenever possible. The role of a strategic Board is to define their vision and definition, then set of the direction and purpose of the organization.
The role of the strategic operational plan, is to put into action the processes, the change management, the tool sets needed to achieve the directiion and purpose.
At least that is where I am sitting today...

Strategy as Content and Process?
Alan Kennedy, Strategy Consultant, Canada
Mr. Henry focuses on strategy as a process. I think strategy starts with understanding content. I argue, in The Alpha Strategies, that there are 8 strategies common to all organizations. These strategies are present and being implemented whether or not they are formally documented. This being the case, a strategic plan can be defined as the identification, documentation, and review of the 8 strategies to determine if they are appropriate given a changing external reality and stakeholder expectations. One of the eight will always lead the remaining seven, so the board and management must understand how the strategies relate to one another. "Vision" is the hoped for outcome of long term pursuit of the lead strategy. The role of the board is to approve the strategic plan and to monitor its implementation by management. The strategy process starts with a shared understanding between management and board on the strategic plan, the vision, and well articulated expectations to drive further strategy implementation.

Strategy as Content and Process
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa
@Alan Kennedy: Hi there Alan, My only concern with your commentary is that the strategy is and remains the playground for Board and Management. Why should the rest of the organisation be excluded? Is not an understanding and acceptance of the vision and strategy of a business by all involved an essential precondition for success? Just thinking!

What is Strategy According to Porter
sadiq, Student (MBA), Pakistan
Michael Porter says "strategy is a unique set of practices which not only distinguish you from your competitors but can not be easily imitated".
If your competitors try to imitate your strategy they won't be able implement it just like you did. e.g. the fast deliver culture in FedEx or 20 minute delivery by Pizza Hut...

Definition of Strategy
Ehab Abou Hamdan, Consultant, Lebanon
A strategy is a high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty. Strategy is also about attaining and maintaining a position of advantage over adversaries through the successive exploitation of known or emergent possibilities rather than committing to any specific fixed plan designed at the outset.
It outlines the specific actions you intend to carry out to interest potential customers and clients in your product and/or service and persuade them to buy the product and/or services you offer. It is developed as a standalone document or as part of a business plan.

Strategy as a Complex Multi-dimensional Variable
Hakim Moi, Strategy Consultant, United Kingdom
There is general lay person view of strategy as a complex variable, meaning different things to different stakeholders. In that sense, there are many dimensions to it, which is why many scholars have elaborated these dimensions to make sense of strategy and make it practical (flavors and variants).
For example, take a look at the financial, customer, process, and learning capabilities as elaborated in Strategy Mapping, which is just one perspective of strategies required in business domains and the linkages between to create synergies.

What is Strategy? An Integrated Set of Choices
pavan singh, Student (MBA), India
Strategy is an integrated set of choices, that uniquely positions a firm in an industry to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage allowing it to offer superior value in that industry.

Defining Strategy: Resource Allocation
Francois La Roche, Business Consultant, Canada
Strategy in my book is very simply defined as Deciding where to allocate one's resources.
It is then relative to whatever position of authority one is in: the CEO can talk about his/her corporate strategy so could the Director of Communication and the Customer Service Manager. For as long as one has the authority to allocate resources ($ or people's time) I think we can talk about strategy. But it leads to the need to always qualify what strategy we are talking about!
I read the following a while ago (can't remember where, sorry) and it kinda stuck in head ever since: “Don't show me your PowerPoint, show me your Excel and I'll tell you what your strategy is.” It is so true.


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