Just working on the first chapter of the textbook 2nd edition, and thought it needed a bit more on this question – found the only way to explain to newbies was to go through an organization’s life and track what ‘strategic management’ actually does over that time-horizon. Main messages are:
- The choice of strategic ‘position’ [what to provide, to whom and how, relative to rivals] is a very rare activity.
- Substantial strategic initiatives [acquisition, new market entry etc] occur occasionally.
- By far the majority of the task is steering [a.ka. implementing] the strategy from period to period.
So – how come the attention in all the textbooks and journals is in precisely the opposite priority?
This took me on a tour around some interesting examples – Blockbuster vs Netflix in video rental, Alibaba.com [China’s eBay-beater], IKEA, etc. And also onto Michael Porter’s ‘What is Strategy?‘ article [HBR, Nov/Dec 1996], which got me really annoyed, because it totally dismisses everything except the first task – though that shouldn’t have surprised me I guess.
See a draft of this new section here [forgive the baby steps approach, but it has to work for new-comers to strategy as well as you experts!].