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What is Strategy?

Ashley Marron – 1st February 2019

Most CEOs are aware of the importance of formulating a strategic plan within their business. But what exactly is strategy? Wikipedia defines strategy as a high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty. Yet strategy is different from vision, mission, goals, priorities, and plans.

However, strategy is commonly misunderstood and often confused. Sometimes it is used to denote importance or criticality, for example, a “strategic program.” Other times, it may be used to convey an action plan—an organisation may say that their strategy is to launch a new key product. However, for me the business strategy of a company provides the big picture that shows how all the individual activities are coordinated to achieve a desired long-term end result.

Whatever your business is I’m sure you have an objective, even if it’s to just survive and earn a level of profit. Equally I am sure that the daily tasks you do complete in the business make you believe that this will move closer to achieving your objective. The potential problem however is that the strategy you are following may not be correct if you haven’t gone through a considered process of gathering and analysing facts, opinions and trends.

Strategy planning should have a long-term view of the business (3+ years) and clarify and focus the unique position of the business relative to its competitors. Strategy needs to consider the opportunities and threats in the outside business world and the internal strengths and weaknesses of the business.

It is through the execution of preparing a strategy that the overall direction of the business is set and is why strategy is important. Ideally the output from a management strategic session should have several key deliverables:

Clear definition on the key business intent over the long term.
Clear, concise and compelling actions expressed through a strategic plan and roadmap.
Visualisation of the strategy helps to articulate and aid internal communication throughout the business, and should align the strategy with objectives and measurements. To help plan the strategy the practice of developing strategy maps has a vital role to play.

To check if your business has a current viable strategy in place then see if you can answer the following 3 questions:

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389 thoughts on “What is Strategy?”

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  15. Your article gave me a lot of inspiration, I hope you can explain your point of view in more detail, because I have some doubts, thank you.

  16. Ashley, your article brings clarity to the often confusing topic of strategy. In today’s fast-paced business world, where the term “strategy” is sometimes thrown around casually, it’s crucial to understand its true essence. You rightly distinguish it from vision, mission, and goals, emphasizing that it’s about the big picture and long-term results. I couldn’t agree more that effective strategy planning involves a deep analysis of both internal and external factors. To succeed, businesses must identify their unique position in the market and be aware of the ever-changing landscape. Your mention of a 3+ year horizon for strategy planning resonates with me as it underscores the need for foresight and adaptability. Thanks for shedding light on this critical aspect of business management.

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