William Pietersen

Strategy: In Search of a Method


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Companies create their futures through the strategies they pursue. These strategies may be explicit or implicit; they may be developed in a thoughtful, systematic way, or allowed to emerge haphazardly in a series of random, ad hoc decisions made in response to daily pressures. But in one way or another, the strategy a company follows—that is, the choices it makes—determines its likely success. And in today's fast-changing environment, the ability to generate breakthrough strategy, and to do so not once but repeatedly, has become more important than ever.

Most executives would readily acknowledge these truths about the importance of strategy. It is curious, therefore, that few companies have devoted significant time or energy to considering the nature of strategy or to examining their own method for developing strategy. Instead, many of them simply plunge directly into strategy formulation. It's as if the manager of an auto plant were to dump a load of parts onto the factory floor and tell the workers, "Here, make some cars," without defining a manufacturing process with the end-product in mind.

In this paper, we'll take a step back and consider the basic questions that companies need to confront:

What is strategy?

What is the role of strategy in an organization?

What is the best method for creating strategy?

Source: Working Paper
Exact Citation:
Pietersen, William. "Strategy: In Search of a Method." Working Paper, Columbia Business School, 2005.
Date: 2005