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Strategy, what is it?

October 24, 2007

I was at a meeting last night with a group of credit unions. It was our semi-annual Peer Group 6 meeting and we had a number of presentations. Interesting the number of times the word strategy was used. It seemed to encompass a number of things is these speeches. It was like the ultimate glue that was needed to hold any direction or business plan in place. But it got me to thinking, what exactly is strategy? What does it mean?

John Ralston Saul has come up with the best definition I have ever come across. It really explains what it is and more importantly what it isn’t. When I use his definition it becomes apparent, the word strategy is being misused and misunderstood. We need to be pretty sure what it is before we start using it. So when a speaker says “this should be your strategy” they need to really understand our business. I lot of times I don’t think they do understand our business.

“The key word is strategy. Not tactics. Not the practicalities we deal with on most days. Strategy is about marrying ideas and capabilities with intuition and daring. It depends on finding the point of pivot which converts the apparently impossible into something reasonably possible.”

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2007 2:25 pm


    I read an amazing article about Jeff Bezos and his strategy for does not make money when they sell things. They make money when they help customers make purchase decisions.
    That’s a good strategy….

  2. October 24, 2007 7:40 pm

    My two cents:

    OBJECTIVE – What we want to accomplish.
    STRATEGY – The general ideas, concepts and principles that will be utilized to accomplish the goal.
    TACTICS – The specific ways in which each component of the strategy will be executed.

  3. October 25, 2007 7:50 am

    My favorite quote about strategy is from Peter Drucker, who said that strategy is as much about what NOT to do as it is what to do.

    I have a corollary to this: Companies that don’t decide what NOT to do, find themselves in a lot of doo-doo.

    For some reason, my corollary isn’t as popular as Drucker’s quote. Oh well, maybe someday.

  4. Michael Hostetler permalink
    October 25, 2007 10:53 am

    That is an excellent definition. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day operations of running a business and lose focus on creating a long-term, sustainable strategic plan.

  5. October 26, 2007 4:45 am

    It always goes like this.

    1. Objective
    2. Plan
    3. Strategy

    When you have an Objective to be met, you come out with plan of meeting.

    …And the strategy comes to work out that plan.

    Courteously — S. Kumar

  6. GordonG permalink
    October 31, 2007 5:31 pm

    That’s a great quote from Saul – can you give the detailed source please.



  7. tinfoiling permalink*
    November 1, 2007 2:13 pm

    Love to but I would have to read a number of his books again. I might have highlighted it but can’t promise I will find anything.

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