The term “strategy” is derived from a Greek term meaning to “lead that which is spread out.” The historical roots of the term strategy, lead naturally to its modern definition: “a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.”
The strategic planning process typically begins by clarifying the “major goal or overall aim” of an undertaking. Interestingly, that major goal or overall aim is often much more complicated than simply generating maximum profit. For example, it might include ensuring that an entrepreneur has ample time to spend with his or her family, or that the employees of a business have secure employment even in tough times, or that a business position itself as an acquisition target for a larger firm.
Once the major goal or overall aim of any undertaking has been crystallized — a process that almost always involves expressing that goal or aim in writing — the strategic planning process can begin in earnest. But, in the business context, hte landscape is vast. The universe in which businesses live includes, for example, finance, operations, marketing, economics, staffing, regulation, competition, market forces, technology, resource allocation and much, much more. In fact, strategy involves virtually every imaginable environmental factor. And, not surprisingly, for that reason, strategic planning is part art and part science.
So, a successful strategist must have true renaissance skills; he or she must a “lateral” understanding of a vast array of disciplines and challenges. And, he or she must be able to:
1. ”Come up to speed” extremely quickly
2. Effectively communicate with “silo” experts in a wide variety of fields
3. Insightfully synthesize what they have learned
4. Coordinate their observations with practical and extraordinary, creative, and farsighted vision. After all, strategy is always about “what’s next.”