Strategy myths

Strategy myths

There are lies and there are myths; lies are generally easier to spot, and myths present a different, subtler trap. They are often based on a plausible half-truth and can lead you astray if you start to act on them.

We encounter myths in most realms of human endeavor, and the discipline of strategic thinking is no exception.

Here are five of the most damaging ones in business:

Myth 1: Strategy is about the long-term and leaders who stick to their strategy through downturns as well as upturns and ignore surface noise do very well.

It's wrong because it's precisely when long-held assumptions are challenged that strategic changes happen. A strategy is about what you are going to do now to shape the future.

Myth 2: Disruptors change strategy all the time.

It's wrong because most of the innovative new products and services reflect a single, consistent strategy.

Myth 3: Competitive advantage is dead.

It's wrong because the full truth is not that competitive advantage is dead, but that you need to rely on multiple advantages rather than just the one.

Myth 4: You don’t really need a strategy; you just need to be agile.

It's wrong because agility is not a strategy; it's a valuable capability, but cannot permanently affect a competitive position unless there is a strategist taking the right decisions about where to direct that capability.

Myth 5: You need a digital strategy.

It's wrong because you don’t want a strategy for digital, IT, finance, HR or anything else; just a strategy for the business. The way to address digital is to think through the assumptions about how your business works and ask yourself if they are still valid, and how digital applies.

In our uncertain world, fundamentals are changing so we need to think about them, whether they are valid in the short- or long-term. Play to win the short games that will enable you to prevail in the long ones. Think deep to act fast. A strategy is still what it has always been: the art of taking action under the pressure of the most challenging conditions.

Inspired by: Harvard Business Review - 5 Myths About Strategy, by Stephen Bungay