Strategy – Step 1: Understand What Strategy Means and Where Strategy Applies

What is strategy? The truth is, genuinely few people know, or more precisely my point, not many who should know do. A few days ago a business man informed me of his strategy for managing ‘phone calls. I found the idea of having a strategy for managing ‘phone calls somewhat difficult to grasp be honest. My challenge with what he was telling me lay in my understanding and knowledge of strategy; consider the following definitions:

Strategy – a plan of action or policy to achieve a major or overall aims

Strategy – the art of planning and directing overall operations or movements in war or battle

Clearly, the latter acknowledges the concept of strategy having its origins in military activity; however, the following definition from is, in my mind, a good business / general definition well articulated and easily understood.

“A general direction set for the company and its various components to achieve a desired state in the future.”

So what? Clearly, managing the volume of communication we all receive these days may well require some forethought and possibly a degree of minor planning activity though this hardly requires a strategy! That is, unless the major overall business or company activity in the future is managing volume communication. Furthermore, I believe, so long as people pursue the verbal equivalent of ‘power dressing’ in order to impress over correct use and application of language to articulate accurately and precisely what they mean, difficult or challenging concepts to master will remain clouded at best and inaccessible at worst. We frequently deal with clients who desperately need to develop and implement a strategy yet struggle to truly understand what strategy is and even find planning difficult to master.

So did the gentleman in question really mean he has a plan for dealing with the high volume of his phone calls? Consider first the following definitions:

Plan (noun) – a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something

Plan (verb) – decide on and arrange in advance

In fairness he had considered and decided in advance how he was going to arrange and prioritise his return calls and which calls he would answer as they came. So he had planned his intended short term actions though I seriously doubt he went to the trouble of recording a formal plan. In establishing an understanding of the relationship between strategy and planning I believe it would be useful to consider the following definition of a plan from

“Written account of intended future course of action (scheme) aimed at achieving specific goal(s) or objective(s) within a specific time frame.”

Strategy is concerned with a more general and overarching position in the long term.

In reality, the gentleman in question had a successful tactical approach for dealing with a lot of ‘phone calls made to him daily. A pedantic statement perhaps, accurate and correct undoubtedly, widely understood – who knows?

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