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Strategy: A definition

Strategy is one of the most difficult and misused terms used in business and indeed life. When most people think of strategy they have a hazy view that may involve wars and conflicts, perhaps they have some knowledge of strategic visionaries from the past like Sun Tzu or Clausewitz.

But normally when they think of a strategy to solve some problem most people think of either (1) tactics or (2) plans, neither of which are in fact strategies. So the question is then what is Strategy?

If we take one of my favorite strategists definitions we read it as:
“Strategy is a mental tapestry of changing intentions for harmonizing and focusing our efforts as a basis for realizing some aim or purpose in an unfolding and often unforeseen world of many bewildering events and many contending interests. ” Taken from John Boyd’s presentation Strategic Game of ? and ? page 58.

The above statement is very compact and contains some very decent guidance therefore I suggest you read it again.

Inherent in this statement is the idea that a strategy is intended to help you create a specific future, which you must by necessity specify at a given time. This future is then achieved by focusing on intentions and aims not goals. In order for these intentions to continue to be efficient, effective and efficacious they to have to change as you realize the consequences of new events and contending interests require your adaptation.

Perhaps the future you want to realize is not the future you actually want, but is in fact a moving target (like so much of life). Therefore your strategy has to be flexible enough to accept that the future you are aiming at will change and that the environment you operate in will change.

And how do you deal with this change?

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