Friday, July 17, 2015

What is Opposite of Strategy?

The opposite of strategy = ad hoc, reactionary, unplanned.

What is a "great" strategy? Is it one that helps the organization get a step closer to its vision? Maintaining its core purpose, but gaining competitive advantage in the market? Better ensuring the long-term sustainability of the business? Ensuring all key/strategic stakeholders expectations are balanced and met? And based on these criteria, what are opposites of strategy, though?


The opposite of strategy = ad hoc, reactionary, unplanned. Each new project reinvents the wheel. Lessons are unlearned. Processes change on a whim: "let's shake things up." Simply put, the strategy is how you plan to win. The strategy is about defining an overarching way to differentiate your plan of uniqueness against your opponents to increase your ability to achieve your goal. So the opposite of strategy is reactionary to business changes without sufficient planning, distract business focus, and slow down organization's speed to reach the vision.


Being strategic is about “WHY” & “WHAT,” Being tactic is about “HOW”: Being "strategic" is being centered around "what" and "why," and being backed by a roadmap and plan of action that are informed by, and have a solid grasp on the lay of the land to guide the perceived journey end-to-end. The "tactics" is being more centered around the "how," the individual steps and mechanics involved in the execution. Generally speaking, strategic decisions are why we do something, how we achieve the strategy through the choices, and then, take series of tactical decisions and actions. For example, the strategy is to improve conversion of existing visitors. whether to use highly developed documentation or ethnographic research are tactical decisions. Choosing to move faster than competitors by iterating faster speed or "failing fast" is a strategic choice. But how do you do it through less documentation, use of whiteboards - is tactical. Being “strategic” and “tactic” is not necessarily opposite, but complementary with each other.


A strategy to compete for winning via differentiation; while a "best practice"isn’t about winning, but trying not to get left behind. The strategy is to create competitive advantage, but "best practice" is almost the antithesis of differentiation. The use of best practices is a tactical approach to solving a problem. When unique research data or user testing is not available, the application of best practices can confidently provide a stable, and common interaction experience for a user. Comparably, a strategic approach involving research, observation, heuristics and testing is what defines best practices and guides their implementation. Best practices are like heuristics, if you leave them out, you repeat known mistakes. When following a strategy, you would still need best practices to avoid being wrong just because you want to be different.


Standard vs. Strategy: Is "standard" being opposed to "strategic"? Or is short term operational view opposite to long-term strategic view? It is not "one size fits all," nor it asks to deviate from best practices. Therefore, a "one-size fits all" approach would be considered a lack of strategy because there is no differentiation. Or to put another way, the strategy needs to strike the right balance between creativity and standardization. Standardization improves business efficiency and manageability from an operational perspective, but creativity helps differentiate your business from competitors and drive winning position for long-term strategic perspective.


Overall speaking, the absence of strategy is chaos, this is not necessarily always negative, how complex is your strategy depends on the nature of your business, and at which point you are in the business life cycle; to some startups, they may avoid over-complex strategy documentation management, because they are unlike traditional business, have little legacy or rigid process. But still, no matter you are a large industry bellwether, or a nimble startup, a good strategy is not always complex, regardless where you are, a comprehensive, but simple enough (not simpler) strategy will help you navigate through the journey, from chaos to order, avoid the negative opposite, also evolve the complementary success factors, to reach your vision and implement strategy steadily.

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