MNGT 5590 Week 1 Discussion 1 | Webster University
Week 1: Lecture
What is "strategy"? (the thing itself)
This first video introduces the basic discussion about "strategy" to get the course started. We all use the word the S-word "strategy", it's part of everyday language. But when asked to define "strategy" into something concrete and usable; it gets tricky quick. Mostly people provide 'descriptions' of strategy, like "long-term", or "goal-oriented", and "plan", or my personal favorite, "Strategy is a long-term, goal-oriented plan", which really doesn't say much that's usable.
Hopefully you now see just how vague the word "strategy" has become, which makes it challenging to define. In everyday use it has virtually no identifiable meaning beyond a "plan". But "strategy" is much more than planning. We know this because planning is a necessary component of strategy, but insufficient to explain or define it. But for now, the point is to see the definitions of "strategy" that you likely carried into this course, are probably an inadequate understanding when challenged. So the goal now is to come to a more useful understanding of what "strategy" is, so that we may apply it in practice during the Capstone Simulation. But first a word about what strategy is not.
At risk of disillusionment, strategy is not many commonly misunderstood things. Don't make these mistakes:
1. "Strategy" is not a mission statement. "Our mission is to be the leader in . . ." (doesn't matter); this says nothing concrete about where the company is going, nor the strength it intends to build upon to get there. This mission statement is a goal, an aspiration, but may or may not reflect strategic thinking. Let this idea go.
2. "Strategy" is not a plan, at least that's not enough to explain "strategy". This is the most common mistake business and management students make, to equate the two. Here's the difference. ALL strategy requires a plan, but not all plans are "strategic". I have a plan to have pizza for dinner, but this plan is not strategic in any way. Don't oversimplify the construct "strategy" as simply "planning", or you risk missing the important distinction and the value of this course. We can do better.
3. Strategy is not a myth or a saying. "The best defense is a good offense" is definitely not 'strategic thinking.' It's a nice phrase, but it's deceiving because it suggests that offense is always the strategy of choice. Nothing could be further from the truth, and for good strategic reasons. This class should help you understand when this advice makes sense and when not. Likewise other expressions like, "All warfare (and therefore 'strategy') is based on deception." Not true, some (maybe even much) warfare is based on deception, but not all, so let's not conflate strategy and deception to suggest they are conceptually the same thing as this is a misunderstanding. We must do better than "sayings".
4. Not all 'strategy' is "good" and choosing the wrong strategy is a quick way to ensure defeat. This course is about how to distinguish good strategy from bad, how to choose the right battles, defend the moderate value battles, and retreat and/or avoid low value battles. Understanding resource movement at the right time gives a competitive edge to decision makers. Stop assuming you have a "good strategy", and start analyzing your strategic (internal - external) environment to the best degree possible; when the strategic environment is well understood, the attack-defend-retreat-avoid decision is relatively trivial. It's all in the analysis, and strategy is only as "good" or "bad" as the move matches the strategic environment.