What do we mean by "Strategy" and why is it important?ByClaire Fuller |FundraisingMarketingNewsSocial Media |25 April 2016
When it comes to planning any sort of strategy for your organisation, it’s important to start at the beginning of the process by ensuring you know what a strategy is and why you need one. This is often a stumbling block as few people know what strategy really is.
What is strategy?
Strategy can often be confused with tactics, goals and even actions. It takes its origins from the early 19th Century: from the French stratégie, from Greek stratēgia “generalship” and from stratēgos which refer to military ploys and deployment of troops.
The Oxford Dictionary defines strategy as:
- “A plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim”
- “The art of planning and directing overall military operations and movements in a war or battle”
More recently adopted by business, here are a few helpful definitions of strategy:
“Strategy refers to basic directional decisions, that is, to purposes and missions. Strategy consists of the important actions necessary to realize these directions.” George Steiner
Author of The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, Henry Mintzberg observed that people use strategy in several different ways, including:
- Strategy is a plan, a “how,” a means of getting from here to there
- Strategy is a pattern in actions over time; for example, a company that regularly markets very expensive products is using a “high end” strategy
- Strategy is position; that is, it reflects decisions to offer particular products or services in particular markets
- Strategy is perspective, that is, vision and direction
And business strategy guru Michael Porter defines ‘competitive strategy’ as, “deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value.” And as “a combination of the ends (goals) for which the firm is striving and the means (policies) by which it is seeking to get there.”
So, strategy is a combination of plan, position and perspective – Strategy is the route by which the gap between means and ends are bridged.
Strategy – a simple definition
Given the varied elements that make strategy what it is, a simple definition is not easy (or comprehensive) but, it is helpful when preparing to think strategically and formulate approaches to marketing, fundraising or business. So, to stand on the shoulders of academic giants (somewhat precariously!) here’s our simple definition of strategy:
- The intentional means through which one seeks to achieve a set of objectives, guided by a particular vision and direction
If you want to know more about strategic thinking and for advice with identifying goals and defining your strategy please contact Phil now.
(Content from previous Yeomans Blog post “What is Strategy” (first published 03/01/12))