So what’s the problem?

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Apart from some great exceptions, business strategy is badly done – disasters are common and most others fail to achieve what is possible. We all pay a heavy price for this incompetence, whether as employees, customers, investors or simply as citizens – business (not Government or consumers) caused the latest recession (like just about all others), but it is the public that ends up paying for it.

Strategy is badly done because it is unprofessional – no common terminology, no reliable methods and no standards of practice. Management by and large do not understand or use the strategy methods in the books and courses, which is not surprising, because they are not useful or simply don’t work. Instead of reliable and useful methods, we have fads and slogans. Because Strategy is no help, management turn to Finance for their planning instead, but Finance-driven strategy – “keep margins up, costs tight, and maximise profitability” – manages to achieve two paradoxical problems – it both strangles business development and increases risk.

We need strategy to be competently done, and it can be.

So am I right? I make the case that “The Trouble with Strategy” is big and important – but is it? Is there a problem at all, and does anyone care? Is strategy badly done, or do most companies do strategy pretty well? Do executives really not use any method for their strategy, or are they closet-professionals, using great methods and procedures to run brilliant strategies? Has Finance in fact taken over Strategy, and if so does it really cause problems? It would be great to hear views on all this – but much better still to hear examples and evidence.


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