What is Strategy?

What is strategy and why do I need one, for myself individually or for my organization?

Strategy is a vision for the organization, going into the future. Now let’s explore the three variables: ends, ways, and means.


What are the objectives we are trying to accomplish?


What are the concepts, plans, and principles we are going to apply to move us in that direction?


Resources being devoted to accomplish our objectives: people, money, time, and capital items.

In that calculation, most leaders ascertain that there’s a certain amount of risk. WHY? Because normally we never have all of the resources — people, money, and time— that we like to have in order to accomplish a particular objective.

Each of us has to make a calculation of how much risk that we are willing to take. We all have a different sense of risk and how comfortable you are taking a risk may change depending upon the situation.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, once said ‘the biggest risk is not taking any risk’. In a world that’s changing really quickly— and ours certainly is— the only strategy that’s guaranteed to fail, is not taking risks at all.

It’s the relationship between these three variables, ENDS, WAYS, and MEANS, and as we move along and make a calculation of ‘are we making progress towards those goals?’ and we readjust our devotion of resources, perhaps even readjust some of our objectives and goals along the way.

I like to think that one way of thinking about strategy and the critical questions associated with strategy is to think about a football game and think about answering 4 questions.

  1. Who are we and where are we?

  2. Where do we want to go?

  3. How do we get there?

  4. Are we getting there?

If you think about football, a football game really set up those questions for us.

Who are we and where are we? Well ‘who are we’ is identified by the uniform we’re wearing and the position we play on that particular team. ‘Where are we’ is defined on the field by lines and markers, sideline coaches, and sideline referees spot us exactly where we are to position the ball.

Where do we want to go? We know exactly where we want to go, and that is towards our goal line. So we make an initial assessment and then we make up a plan to decide how we’re going to get there, and we create plays to do that.

How do we get there? We implement those plays as we progress down the field.

Are we getting there? Of course we look again to those sideline markers. If the markers keep moving in the directon of our goal, then we are moving in the direction that we want. We are implementing goals that we wish to accomplish. Sadly, if we’re not, we need to reassess, reassure ourselves, and think about the future.

So I would argue that each of us needs our own personal strategy and as a leader we certainly need a strategy for our organization as we move into an uncertain future.

That is the relationship between those three variables: ENDS, WAYS, and MEANS.

We want to hear from YOU! Do you agree with Jeff’s 4 critical questions? Share your comments below.