Strategy Formulation as the Means to Arrive at a Future End State

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Strategy Formulation as the Means to Arrive at a Future End State
Gary Wong, Consultant, Canada

Strategy is about formulating a path to arrive at a future end state. Since there can be several viable options, strategic analysis involves choosing which road to take. The more important question is how "idealistic" is the desired future state. If the future is deemed predictable and certain, then the strategy can be deliberate. However, when predicting a future end state is extremely difficult, then an emergent strategy makes more sense. Instead of having to look way out in the Future, you carefully watch what is emerging in front of you and navigate the evolutionary potential of the Present. This is called"naturalistic strategic planning". The naturalistic end state is based on organizational values such as "whatever we do, we will do no evil" or "whatever path we choose, it will lead us to sustainability".

There is no Way to Predict the Future
Bernhard Keim, Business Consultant, Germany
This is a very important thought. Let me lunge back to the origins of strategy. The term has been primed by the military. There strategy is about winning the war, not the battle. Let me amend it: it's not even about winning the war, but the peace. War is always an exceptional situation, whereas peace is the normal modus operandi. And as no exceptional situation is sustainable, no strategy secures sustainable competitive advantage on the long run. In an open world things and circumstances are changing and they are changing all the time.
Having said this, it should be clear that strategy is mainly a posture, an attitude that helps us to take advantage of change, but not a tool to fight the inevitable, the change that will happen, whether we like it or not.
Strategic analysis and strategy analysis both separate the future from the past by analyzing the recipes of success and the conditions success is embedded in.

We Can Predict the Future to Some Extent
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
I agree with both of you. Because external changes have become more frequent and perhaps also more significant (impact), it is harder to predict the long-term future and craft a corresponding deliberate or emergent strategy. But for the same reasons, strategic analysis has also become more important.
Even if we can't predict the long-term future anymore, we can still monitor very closely what are the first short-term signals of certain changes starting to unfold, creating a kind of strategic foresight. For more info about this I highly recommend the book by Rob-Jan de Jong: "ANTICIPATE - The Art of Leading by Looking Ahead".
Also we can use scenarios to prepare ourselves in a strategic sense (strategic agility). And we can prepare our organization, so it is able to change quickly and constantly as deemed necessary (organizational agility).



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