I am passionate about business strategy. However, I feel that strategy is a term that we all use, but not many people know what it actually is.  It used to happens to me a lot at work. It went like this, I talked to my team on, say, our social media activities, I asked a team member why there was no progress. One of the answers always was – “I don’t understand why we are doing this. I don’t think we have a strategy for our social media”. I then asked “OK, we have discussed this many times. Before I go through it with you again, can you please tell me, in your words, what is a strategy?” If it happens to you, your boss asks you this question, what would be your answer? It’s intriguing, isn’t it?

When asked, what is a strategy? I often heard something along the line of – it’s a business plan, or it’s an annual budget, or it’s a way to achieve goals, etc. It’s not wrong, but it’s also not right. I did some research to see if a similar trend is out there too.

The outcomes of my research for the answers to this question involves the following keywords:

  • Problems
  • Competitive advantage
  • Strengths/weaknesses
  • Execution/Implementation
  • Choices (what to do and what not to do)
  • Differences
  • Change of external forces
  • Branding/Positioning

With all of the above, I want to propose my own version of what a strategy is. I am a big fan of Richard Rumelt’s book (Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The difference and why it matters) so I am influenced by his thoughts. Below is my version.

“A strategy is an activity that utilises insights to design a coherent set of actions based on your advantages to overcome challenges.”

According to Richard, the first step to check if you have a strategy is to see if you understand your challenges. In his words, “A great deal of strategy work is trying to figure out what is going on. Not just deciding what to do, but the more fundamental problem of comprehending the situation”. Basically, what he said is, “diagnosis is a judgment about the meanings of facts.” I think his book is impressive and if you have the same interest as I am (in strategy), you should read his book (if you haven’t done that yet).

Strategy work is important. It determines life and death of companies. It’s more important than many people think. Surprisingly, not many people understand what the true strategy is.

Apivut @ SiB

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