Every enterprise engages in strategy.
- It's a matter of routine to some: Driven by the calendar, it's now time to do the "strategic plan".
- To others, it's another name for how to engage with risk -- a risk might be a tactical failure, but at the same time, it could be a strategic success: The other guy won today, but he killed himself doing it.
But, is grand strategy an illusion? I think not! But, consider these pro-illusion ideas from a recent essay on just that point:*
"It makes sense to put stock in strategy if:This sounds like the "noestimates" version of "nostrategy": As a result, the consequences of [strategic] policy are consistently unpredictable.
But [perhaps] none of this is possible, and thus strategy is an illusion .....
- The [enterprise] has consistent preferences, if
- It can assess the costs and benefits of alternative courses of action (and make decisions more or less rationally), and if
- It has the capacity to follow through on its strategic choices.
In the complex and highly uncertain world of [big project and big enterprise] politics, it is all but impossible to identify the ideal strategy ahead of time. The [enterprise or project] lacks full knowledge about the threats it confronts, in part because [other businesses and markets] act [in private] and in part because their interests change over time. As a result, the consequences of [strategic] policy are consistently unpredictable.
The strategizing ritual contributes to a .... sense of insecurity. Psychological blinders, moreover, make strategizing still more difficult.
- People suffer from all sorts of cognitive limitations that hinder decision-making—in particular, a tendency to rationalize.
- Instead of acting on the basis of ... beliefs, we revise our beliefs to make sense of our improvisations.
- We avoid identifying priorities and the tradeoffs among them.
- Moreover, businesses are not unitary actors, and bureaucratic battles impede strategic planning and consistency.
I'm not buying the thesis that not thinking about a future that has a discriminating difference with the present is somehow a good thing. Just because -- the future is unpredictable with precision and there are unknowns and unknowables that will drive us off course -- is no reason not to tackle the hard stuff
*David M. Edelstein and Ronald R. Krebsein, writing in the Nov-Dec 2015 issue of Foreign Affairs
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