Strategy does not have a hard and fast definition. In my experience, I’ve seen “strategy” used to define goals, product planning, a roadmap, and action plans. Even watching the PGA Championship at this very minute, Sir Nick Faldo said the younger generation is fearless, and that’s their strategy. That seems more like an attitude, but who am I to argue with a knight?
When I define strategy, I think about goals, and then the approach to achieve those goals.
The always truthful Wikipedia has several possible definitions:
- A high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty
- Alfred Chandler (1962) – “Strategy is the determination of the basic long-term goals of an enterprise, and the adoption of courses of action and the allocation of resources necessary for carrying out these goals.”
- Michael Porter (1980) – the “…broad formula for how a business is going to compete, what its goals should be, and what policies will be needed to carry out those goals” and the “…combination of the ends (goals) for which the firm is striving and the means (policies) by which it is seeking to get there
The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program discusses how a company establishes a strategy and why you need a strategy:
“This item asks how you establish a strategy to address your organization’s challenges and leverage its advantages and how you make decisions about key work systems and core competencies. It also asks about your key strategic objectives and their related goals. The aim is to strengthen your overall performance, competitiveness, and future success”
What are your competitive advantages? One company may have a unique product or service, and being first to market is critical. Another company may have an improvement or enhancement to an existing product, and understanding its competitors’ features and its ability to differentiate are important. No matter how you want to define strategy, make sure you have one, you look at it often, that it guides you toward your goals, and it remains valid. Markets change rapidly; expect to adapt.