Strategy, according to management theory in the last fifty years, is relatively simple: choose a strategic direction and execute. US corporations used to have huge planning departments to aid this process. Soon enough, though, complexity started to appear both in analysis and execution, the latter quickly was renamed implementation because it actually had to involve staff at lower levels in the hierarchy. This coincided with the rise of strategy consultants. What characterizes the work assignment of strategy consultants is that they typically are hired by C-level executives to fix a perceived problem somewhere in the organization by gathering the facts and finding the “perfect” solution.
The problem is that perfect solutions don’t exist. C-level executives do not know what is wrong with an organization, nor what is right with it, or where it should be heading. How could they, given where they are situated vis-a-vis innovative streams in-house and externally? Strategy consultants may think they know. In-house knowledge workers my feel the issues. However, it is, in fact, possible that no single individual knows. What then? Then begins the search for strategy within the organization.
Strategy is nothing more–and nothing less–than a succinct expression of where an organization is already going.