Is Strategy Dying?

| September 9, 2010

After 15 years of executive consulting with the largest entertainment companies on the planet, I thought I’d seen and heard it all.

Then, I met with a recent client, the VP of Strategy for a media giant, who told me that he couldn’t sell strategy in a company where the concept was dead.  He went on to explain his new approach was to focus on the “Stratactical.” Yes, you’re eyes are fine, that word is stratactical, a combination of strategic and tactical.

I did my best to convince my client that without strategy there is no business. But, he was steadfast in his convictions: Strategy was dead.

Stepping back from the situation, I can understand where my client is coming from. There is a very real “Strategic Paradox” hovering over the heads of business these days.

The Strategy Paradox

How can organizations maintain effective business strategies when key elements are constantly changing?

Response 1: Reactivity

The first reaction to the strategic paradox is to immerse into an endless planning cycle—constantly restructuring strategy as change and data are analyzed. The result is the classic, and inevitable, quagmire known as analysis paralysis, with strategy frozen in place by a deluge of change projection.

Response 2: Status Quo

The second reaction to the strategic paradox is little response at all. Organizations reason that it is too difficult at a particular moment to plan any reasonable, long-range strategy, so instead they settle for the “status quo.” They allow the marketplace to steer their course. The result is a period of aimless drifting, as companies find themselves blown farther and farther away from where they need to be in the market.

Neither reaction-constant planning or no planning at all is an appropriate response to the strategic paradox.

So, given this paradox, I ask you, is strategy going to die?  Is my client’s “Stratactical” approach valid?

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Category: General Strategy

About Marc LeShay: I am a strategic consultant helping people find clarity in chaos View author profile.

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