Our use of the word ‘strategy’

We consider strategy to be an art. We differentiate strategy, the art form, from its work product, a (the, our, or their) strategy. And while the word strategic is amongst the most popular in the business world, we attempt to use that word only purposefully, to describe something related to strategy or a strategy and not use it as a synonym for important.

Strategy does entail plans and decisions, so it has something in common with tactics and execution. But unlike tactics, these plans and decisions need to be made in light of overall objectives, and those objectives, in turn, need to be made in light of overall purpose.

Strategy as the art of the general is indeed about winning. But it is not about winning as in a military war, where the objective is to end the war. In business the “war” is much more complex, much more about cooperation and collaboration, and intended to be never-ending. No business does last forever, they all evolve into something else or cease to exist, but their leaders work with the intention that they will go on forever.

Some discussants suggest that the war analogy is not fitting, but we consider that the general practicing their art – understanding the situation they are in, gaining new intelligence and insights every minute, needing to make decisions right away and with imperfect and ever-changing knowledge, selecting which resources will be needed in the future and putting plans in place of these resources are there when needed — these are all entirely applicable to today’s business diplomat general. Of course this commanding general is not just one individual — it never was. But thinking of it this way has proven much more beneficial than thinking of it as if no one was in this position, and that disparate silos of information and domain expertise would serve the business better.