As a multisport athlete, I was always fascinated with competition and how to win. At HBS and later at the Harvard Department of Economics, I was drawn to the field of competition and strategy because it tackles perhaps the most basic question in both business management and industrial economics: What determines corporate performance?
In order to produce generalist courses, business school professors have been forced to invent subjects called strategy, called organizational behavior and so on.
So companies have to be very schizophrenic. On one hand, they have to maintain continuity of strategy. But they also have to be good at continuously improving.
The underlying principles of strategy are enduring, regardless of technology or the pace of change.
A strategy delineates a territory in which a company seeks to be unique.
Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.
Strategy 101 is about choices: You can’t be all things to all people.
Who asks whether the enemy was defeated by strategy or valor?
As a civil servant in charge of the government’s Strategy Unit, I brought in many people from outside government, including academia and science, to work in the unit, dissecting and solving complex problems from GM crops to alcohol, nuclear proliferation to schools reform.
You may not be interested in strategy, but strategy is interested in you.