What is Strategy?
This seemingly rather innocent question has generated considerable intellectual discussion over the past thirty years in a variety of management texts, journals and internet discussions. My concern in this paper is not to adjudicate on that far reaching discussion, but to offer some brief insights into this issue and to lay out some ideas which we will develop as the module unfolds.
Perhaps the key to answering this much asked question lies in where one starts. The range of ways in which strategy can be understood is highlighted by Mintzberg (19) where he identifies no less than ten schools of strategy. Each school provides a different perspective onto strategy and is based on a set of assumptions regarding how humans make decisions and the nature of the world; is the world simple or complex, can the world be formally modelled or is the world chaotic and thus totally unpredictable. Whilst these questions may appear rather esoteric they are in fact fundamental to our ability to understand strategy.
In setting off together on our journey of discovery I want to set out a definition of strategy rather different to those of Mintzberg’s ten schools. The definition of strategy I outline here focuses on three interlinked issues which can be formed into three questions:
What forms of value do organizations seek to create?
How is that value created?
How are the value creation processes organized and managed?
In answering these three interlinked questions we will go a long way towards understanding the notion of strategy. Of course these questions raise another, perhaps more fundamental question, why are there organizations? A question I hope we can answer as we answer the other questions.
Firstly, the form of value the organization seeks to create. This issue is absolutely central to understanding of strategy; all organizations seek to create some form of value, be it a heart operation, a Bratz...