Tag Archives: Strategy Definition

Really Thought Provoking Definition of Strategy

Professor Henry Mintzberg defined strategy as “a pattern in a stream of decisions”. This helps us better understand how decisions relate to strategy. This phrase is easy to remember but it may take years to fully grasp its point. Mintzberg’s cryptic statement can be understood as an approach to decisions in two steps:

Firstly, there is the overall decision – the big choice – that guides all other decisions. To make a big choice, we need to decide who we focus on – our target client segment – and we need to decide how we offer unique value to the customers in our chosen segment. This is basic strategy stuff but, by formulating it this way, we can better understand the second part, the day-to-day decisions – the small choices – that get us closer to the finish line. When these small choices are in line with the big choice, you get a Mintzberg Pattern.

Condensed from Strategy Magazine, Issue 31 Page 31

So, we conclude that strategy is not just about deciding the important macro-direction to take, but a way of enabling all members of the organization to determine what they should or should not do. There are corollaries to this conclusion, so maybe further blog entries….

Comments welcome.

A Definition of Strategy

A colleague recommended Rich Howarth’s book on strategy and management of strategy called “Deep Dive: The Proven Method for Building Strategy, Focusing Your Resources, and Taking Smart Action.”

Howarth has a definition of strategy that I like:

“the intelligent allocation of limited resources through a unique system of activities to outperform the competition in serving customers.”

Based upon this definition of strategy, then Strategic Leadership would be defined as

“Causing people in an organization to intelligently allocate limited resources through a unique system of activities to outperform the competition in serving customers.”

I like the idea of recognition of limited resources, and the idea of well thought through intentional use of those resources in a way that improves upon existing ways to achieve the end result. The only thing that I’d love to see changed is the replacement of the word “intelligent” with “optimum”. “Optimum” implies so much more. It implies not just that a better allocation of resources is used, but the best allocation of resources is used.

Regardless of this, at least the idea of “intelligently” allocating resources implies that someone thought of what could be done, and decided to do something for a reason other than “we have always done it like this”.

I thought that this was worth sharing, as I like the thinking behind the definition.