Lawrence Freedman has written a massive work on Strategy. Freedman is professor of War Studies at King’s College (London) and was UK government policy adviser. His treatise on Strategy is one of the most comprehensive in hand, and the main merit for me is that he looks at strategy from so many fields. Leaders could benefit from its reading (just set a side a week or so!)
Strategy is much more than a plan. A plan supposes a sequence of events that allows one to move with confidence from one state of affairs to another. Strategy is required when others might frustrate one’s plans because they have different and possibly opposing interests and concerns… The inherent unpredictability of human affairs, due to the chance events as well as the efforts of opponents and the missteps of friends, provides strategy with its challenge and drama.
His next point on the directional side of strategy is crucial for business organizations:
Strategy is often expected to start with a description of a desired end state, but in practice there is rarely an orderly movement to goals set in advance. Instead, the process evolves through a series of states, each one not quite what was anticipated or hoped for, requiring a reappraisal and modification of the original strategy, including ultimate objectives.
The picture of strategy… is one that is fluid and flexible, governed by the starting point and not the end point.”
Governed by the starting point!
See a parallel with my Three Models of Change: ‘Destination’, ‘Journey’ and ‘Building’. Strategy in Freedman terms will click more with my ‘Journey’ and ‘Building’ than ‘Destination’
So much to ponder about this in organizations!
I am constantly reminding ourselves that the new management disciplines sit outside traditional management thinking. Freedman’s Strategy is a good example of a source.
Paraphrasing my previous Daily Thoughts ,Community Organizing 1, Harvard MBA nil, this is King’s College War Studies 1, Michael Porter nil.