What is strategy? – The question of the immediate strategic challenge

Sir Lawrence Freedman provides an overview of the understanding and the use of strategy in this speech – beginning from its sources in the military history to the corporate strategy of companies. He skillfully explains how different circumstances in politics, the war or in the economy had an impact on the “need for strategy” or for a different kind of strategy. In the second part of his speech 3 thoughts stand out:


  • “Most good strategy is focused not on a specific end-point, but on a problem at hand.” This means, that there is a specific strategic challenge, which needs to be addressed. 


I know those kinds of strategies often nearly solely focused on future targets out of my own consulting practice all too well. They are usually too high-level in the end. The way from here to there, from today to tomorrow often lacks clarity. Die supposedly visionary power of such strategies evolves rather mediocre impact unfortunately.The focus on a few, very specific strategic challenges however, which need to be addressed right away or timely in the near future, focusses the thinking process in the strategic work. This enables the definition of targeted, clear and feasible strategies, also allowing for an easy and convincing communication of the strategy within the organization.


  • Strategy is similar to a soap opera: One is never really done. There is always a new strategic challenge, even then, when the original strategy worked out perfectly.


  • Strategy is usually connected with an orientation on strengths. However, it should not be underestimated that strategy also needs to be developed out of a position of weakness or hardship. This is rather an art, then.


If you would like to skip the part on the military history of strategy, please start the video at 10:20 minutes. There, the part dedicated primarily to general strategy or the strategy of corporations begins.



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