What Exactly Strategy Is? (And What It Is Not!)

Have you ever consider, what strategy is? We hear all the time about strategy by many official and unofficial channels. Strategy is one of those basic concepts (as Leadership, Productivity, Personal Development, etc is) for personal, social and business development, people usually, use it wrong, and often for the wrong reasons. But why there is such a confusion about what strategy is, since it is such important components in our modern way of thinking? And why it is so difficult to define what strategy is?

What strategy is and what it is not

“What exactly strategy is?”and “What it is not!”

On Strategy

Strategy is a concept that most people find it an essential component (or tool) in the arsenal of every modern person (either for business, professional or for personal use) but rarely get into the trouble of define it or use it correctly.

For this reason a lot of the people discuss about political, social, cultural, personal, life or business strategies for getting this or that, but the most of the times they define it in a problematic way and as a result, use it wrongly.

Let’s clear up, a little, the fog, surround the word strategy and see where can we go from here.

So first things first. Lets see, what strategy is not.

What Strategy Is and Isn’t

What Strategy is not

For the most of the people, the word strategy, is an alternative of long-term planning and most of the companies or organisations use it in this context.

But long-term planning is quite different from strategic planning (as we will see!). So strategy is not equal to planning. Maybe strategy involves planning, but it does not equals to that.

Pursue this analogy, strategy it seems to be neither just:

  • tactics,
  • tool,
  • method,
  • design,
  • scheme,
  • approach,
  • framework
  • way of thinking

Still strategy encompass all (and much more of) the above. So what exactly strategy is. Let’s see how we can define it.

Definition of Strategy

Merriam-Webster dictionary, defines strategy as:

a (1) : the science and art of employing the political, economic, psychological, and military forces of a nation or group of nations to afford the maximum support to adopted policies in peace or war (2) : the science and art of military command exercised to meet the enemy in combat under advantageous conditions
b : a variety of or instance of the use of strategy
2 a : a careful plan or method : a clever stratagem
b : the art of devising or employing plans or stratagems toward a goal
3: an adaptation or complex of adaptations (as of behavior, metabolism, or structure) that serves or appears to serve an important function in achieving evolutionary success <foraging strategies of insects>

But this is a very general definition, hardly suitable for applying strategy principles (or strategic thinking) in our daily activities (something highly favorable, since, the implementation and use of strategic concepts in out life, would produce better results, in almost every situation, either professional or personal).

Why we need a more functional definitions of strategy? Because we need a definition that would define its application and prescribe its usage in a simple, elegant and functional way, that everyone can follow and better his/her life (in all levels!). And exactly that is the goal!


What Strategy is?

As we discussed, strategy can be a lot of the things (and have a lot of meanings for different people). But we have to agree on what it is, in order to have a common ground for discussing about strategy and implementing it in the same way.

International literature (as various definitions of strategy) suggests, that there are 7 basic components that defines strategy. Namely:

  1. A measurable objective or goal to be reached (situation to be reached, item to be gained, skill to be acquired, products to be sell or produced, etc)
  2. A scope of reference (a content and a context) for the pursue of the objective pursued (a way of do’s and don’ts for the achievement of the objective). An ethical, moral, culture, system, business, economic, financial, etc framework of activities, out [or beyond] of which the reach of the set objective, can be considered as inappropriate, as unsuccessful, as not economic feasible, etc)
  3. A time frame for the achievement of the objective.
  4. A certain mindset, dictates the accomplishment of the set objective in a systematic and coherent way.
  5. A desire, will or intention, of a logical entity (a person, company, organization, community, etc) to reach that objective in a certain systematic manner.
  6. A way of reaching or getting the intended objective. A plan, schema, methodology, stratagem that can be designed, devised, or implemented for the pursue of the objective set.
  7. A set (or sum) of predesignate intentional activities, organized and orchestrated in a manner that would considered able to accomplish the objective according to the plan used [in 6].

Based on the above, a functional definition of what strategy is, can be read as:

A designed set of intentional activities, undertaken by a logical entity with a certain mindset, and organized within a scheme,  which aims at achieving a measurable objective within a given scope of reference and time frame

And this, perhaps is a more functional definition of what strategy is?

Reference on the topic of “What Strategy Is?”

Do you think, the definition of strategy, provided further above, it was useful? Can these concepts be applied to daily activities and be used in an efficient way? Do you think that the so called strategic thinking, can provide more results for every person, in comparison to normal thinking? Do you think, that after reading this post, you can answer more easily in the question of what strategy is, or not?

    Takis Athanassiou is an IT Consultant, Blogger, Trainer & Writer, active in the areas of leadership, business consulting, e-Learning and social media. He aims at the development of people, business and assets! You can check out his blog, add him in Google+ and follow him on Twitter.

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