I am often asked: what is Strategy?
I used to use long and detailed explanations that covered all sorts of possible objections the listener had never even thought of, taking the more ‘detailed’ route of strategy of my own in anticipating their reactions.
However, in recent years, the more experiences I had the more I became aware of the beauty of simplicity and that answer became more clear:
Strategy is identifying what needs doing now to affect/influence the future to produce an objective. Like a wave, it must be fluid, adaptable and go with the flow.
We can aim for an outcome, we can hope for an outcome, but ultimately like the wave there are factors out of our control that may affect the outcome. A good strategy allows you to be prepared for change independent of the models and structures.
The effect of recessions and the pandemic had such a profound impact on the course of many strategies that had been defined prior to these events. During the pandemic it took a while for business owners to react as the unknown was so destabilising that it created insecurity that transcended business affairs and impacted the personal leading to many questions.
Will the business survive the pandemic? Will our product or service still be relevant? How long will it take for us to go back to previous levels of business?
Business by literal definition means being busy. A crisis becomes one because of its impact on people. It is all about occupant and outcome – nothing exists in a vacuum. Business and crisis are a reflection of the people involved and their values. Suddenly it all stops; business and crisis anxiety then step in.
But even business and crisis anxiety can find their core values and foundations shaken by events that exceed the expected. Unfortunately, strategies are rarely adapted or these original foundations questioned. Instead, people try hard to return to earlier strategies, something which only works in a very limited set of instances.
So how can strategy help avoiding or managing the possible business or crisis anxiety? How it makes a difference?
In Taoism the concepts of better or worst are not essential. It is what it is and will be. It is a continuous aspect evolving. Things have to flow. As such the strategy should be focused on what is and will be, identifying what needs doing now to affect the future. Understanding that the strategy must adapt should be wired in the strategy itself. To evolve and be fluid is therefore essential, as is identifying accurately what the real objective to reach is.
Hence, when asked what is strategy, I simply reply that is identifying what needs doing now to affect/influence the future, to produce an objective. It starts with the now, not where you thought you are or were.