Strategy: Crucial Enabler or Tired Cliché?

Confused person with a question mark over their head
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Say the word ‘strategy’, and many people will respond with a glazed look and a sigh. Seen as a Dilbert-esque ‘corporate’ buzzword, people throughout organisations often disengage, seeing strategic thinking as something for those in a ‘corner office’ or an ivory tower. It is often seen as disconnected from the real-world, with bland internally-focussed vision statements and strategic plans festering away twenty-six links deep on a corporate intranet.

 

Yet as business analysts, we know that pursuing change and innovation without a cohesive set of strategic principles is like setting sail without a planned destination, a compass or a map. All important change requires co-ordinated effort, and this cohesion can be achieved with a clear, crisp, concise strategy. Done well, this ensures we have a laser-like focus on delivering products and services in a way that our customers love.  Yet a question that we might often ask is what actually is “strategy”, and what is our role (as BAs) in relation to strategy?

 

Strategy: A Definition

There are many useful definitions of strategy out there (For example, Michael Porter has written some very useful material on competitive strategy).  Yet, the definition I come back to time and time again is from a 2011 book ‘Good Strategy Bad Strategy…*’.  By Richard Rumelt.  In this book, Rumelt describes strategy as:

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