Developing a Winning Strategy, surviving the unknown

The Economist has a book review of Strategy: A History.

Why a strategy is not a plan

Strategies too often fail because more is expected of them than they can deliver

Nov 2nd 2013 |From the print edition

Strategy: A History. By Lawrence Freedman. Oxford University Press USA; 751 pages; $34.95. Buy from

The book is 751 pages, and I doubt I could discipline myself to read it.  Although, what is worthwhile is this nugget.

Over time, the word “strategy” has been drained of meaning by ubiquity and overuse. Sir Lawrence Freedman’s aim in his magisterial new book, “Strategy: A History”, is to find a workable definition of what strategy is and to show how it has evolved and been applied in war, politics and business. Above all, he argues, it is about employing whatever resources are available to achieve the best outcome in situations that are both dynamic and contested: “It is about getting more out of a situation than the starting balance of power would suggest. It is the art of creating power.”

A good lesson is in the closing of the review.

The sobering lesson after 630 pages of wide-ranging erudition and densely packed argument is that although it is usually better to have some kind of strategy than not, unless you are prepared to adapt it as circumstances change it is unlikely to do you much good.

I feel good about the strategy for services I am working on as we have spent over 3 years building on an organizational structure which has proven robust to adapt to changes.  What I guess I wound add is you need to think about how your group/company is organized with its staff as to whether they support an adaptable strategy.