¿Por qué es difícil la estrategia?
Estrategia es un término tan complicado que ni siquiera los que se dedican a ello profesionalmente son capaces de ponerse de acuerdo en su definición.
El verano pasado empecé a escuchar un podcast sobre estrategia: Outthinkers.
Los invitados, según la propia descripción del podcast, son “estrategas e innovadores que desafían el status quo, lideran el futuro de los negocios y dan forma a nuestro mundo.”
El presentador comienza cada episodio con una pregunta aparentemente sencilla. ¿Cuál es tu definición de estrategia? En 38 episodios, no hay dos invitados que den la misma respuesta.
Anoche me pasé un par de horas recopilando las definiciones que han dado los invitados en cada episodio. Aquí tenéis la transcripción de 35 de ellas.
Disculpad que no las haya traducido al castellano, pero no quería que se perdiera la esencia de lo que decían en la traducción.
35 definiciones distintas de estrategia
#1 “Strategy is a set of congruent choices to achieve a desired end.” — Scott Anthony, Strategic advisor (Innosight), author, and speaker on growth and innovation
#2 “Strategy is a central, integrated concept, of how are we going to achieve our objectives.” — Rita McGrath, Best-selling Author. Well-known speaker and strategic advisor. Professor at Columbia Business School.
#3 “Strategy is the process of reconciling the most important business dilemmas.” — Fons Trompenaars, Consultant and author of Riding the Waves of Culture book
#4 “Strategy is defining the right objectives and how best to achieve them.” — Rob Wolcott, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Chicago Booth
#5 “Strategy is figuring out how you are going to maximize the performance of your organization.” — Lindsay McGregor, co-founder Vega Factor and co-author Primed to Perform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation
#6 “Strategy is a vision. Is a technique you use to fulfill that vision.” — Vivek Wadhwa, Distinguished Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program
#7 “Strategy is the deliberate approach to achieving a broader desired outcome.” — Josh Linkner, founder and author of Disciplined Dreaming and The Road to Reinvention
#8 “Strategy is exploiting trade-offs to be different from your competitors.” — Michael Raynor, Managing Director at Deloitte
#9 “Strategy is answering a number of questions and letting the concrete answers come:
Who are your customers and what needs are you satisfying?
How satisfying those needs would make money for the shareholders?
What’s your competitive advantage now?
How would your market cap grow?
Are you increasing the addressable market?”
— Ram Charan, Global Business & Leadership Consultant
#10 “Strategy is about how to deliver rapidly expanding value to all stakeholders, with much less resources, and far more quickly and more sustainably than you can do this over a sustained period, not just briefly than anyone else. “ — John Hagel, Founder, Beyond Our Edge
#11 “Strategy is a plan to achieve a particular aim.” — Navi Radjou, Fellow at Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge
#12 “Strategy is a set of mutually reinforcing choices. Primarily about where to play and how to win.” — David Duncan, co-author of Competing Against Luck
#13 “Strategy is an excuse for not listening to your customers.” — David Robertson, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management
#14 “Strategy is answering how am I going to get done what matters to me?” — Whitney Johnson, WLJ Advisors CEO
#15 “Strategy is about making explicit what are our intentions in terms of where do we want to go.” — Tendayi Viki, Strategyzer Associate Partner
#16 “My sense of strategy has two elements. One, winning or succeeding in the marketplace, outside in. Strategy is not what we know and do, it's how what we know and do allows us to succeed with our customers, investors, and our communities. The second dimension for me is how do we do something unique. How do we differentiate?” — Dave Ulrich, Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and the Co-Director of Michigan's Human Resource Executive Program
#17 “Strategy is being able to solve a problem or discover a solution to something you’re grappling with.” — April Rinne, Change Navigator, author of FLUX: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change
#18 “Strategy is choosing how to go from there from here.” — Robbie Kellman Baxter, Advisor to the world's leading subscription-based companies Keynote Speaker, Author of THE MEMBERSHIP ECONOMY
#19 “Strategy is about having a clearly articulated path or idea of how to achieve a vision.” — Chris Marquis, Sinyi Professor of Chinese Management at the University of Cambridge. Author of "Better Business: How the B Corp Movement is Remaking Capitalism"
#20 “Strategy is the culture you build.” — Alex Osterwalder, co-founder Strategyzer, Business Model Canvas co-inventor
#21 “Strategy is about actions and sequences of actions that are undertaken by firms that have a major impact on their future.” — Richard D’Aveni, Chaired Tuck Professor. Author, The Pan-Industrial Revolution: How New Manufacturing Titans will Transform the World
#22 “Strategy is the overarching theme that connects the thing we do. It’s what are we trying to accomplish on a big broad scale and how do we align our thinking, our people, our tactics, and our metrics.” — Pete Fader, Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
#23 “Strategy is the mental exercise that one has to do to establish a framework for the how.” — Johnny C. Taylor Jr, President & CEO, SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management)
#24 “Strategy is having an ambition for the organization that leverages its resources, and is bigger than its existing capability.“ — Liz Wiseman, NY Times bestselling author and executive advisor
#25 “Strategy is the company’s way to create value for one of three groups: customers, employees or suppliers.” — Felix Oberholzer-Gee, Professor at Harvard University
#26 “Strategy is both knowing what to do and actually doing it.” — Michael Tushman, Professor at Harvard Business School and co-founder of Change Logic
#27 “Strategy is making your people understand what your true north is. What you’re trying to accomplish.” — Tiffany Bova, Chief Growth Evangelist at Salesforce, author of Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business
#28 “Strategy is a series of assumptions that organizations have about the future, or about the direction of where they are heading.” — Dan Toma, Author Innovation Accounting & The Corporate Startup
#29 “I’ve never seen a definition of Strategy that was clearer than goals and a plan.” — Peter Cappelli, George W. Taylor Professor of Management
#30 “Strategy is a matter of setting a goal and then a series of policies or actions to reach it.” — Ben Gomes-Casseres, Author of REMIX STRATEGY
#31 “Strategy is what you’re going to do. Execution is how you’re going to do it.” — Faith Popcorn, Futurist/CEO at Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve
#32 “The essence of strategy is trade-offs and choices among a number of interesting options.” — Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the London Business School
#33 “Strategy is any systematic pattern of thought or action which increases the probability of favorable outcomes.” — Martin Reeves, Managing Director and Senior Partner in BCG
#34 “Strategy is to be intentional and thoughtful on what we want to achieve and how.” — Francesca Gino, Harvard Business School Professor and Best-Selling Author of "Rebel Talent"
#35 “Strategy is about big decisions that can have an impact sustainably on your ability to generate superior returns.” — Jonathan Knee, Senior Advisor Evercore
Y entonces, ¿qué es estrategia?
Como habéis podido observar, ni siquiera los que se dedican a ello profesionalmente parecen tener una visión unificada de lo que es la estrategia, así que no seré yo quién venga aquí a daros la respuesta definitiva.
Sí os puedo dar mi versión. Personalmente creo que estrategia es ante todo elección. Elegir qué vas a hacer y definir cómo vas a lograrlo.
Es elección ante todo porque elegir es descartar. Y descartar opciones para poner el foco en lo que verdaderamente importa, resulta ser un ejercicio tremendamente complicado.
Lo aprendí en mi propia empresa hace 15 años. Todo nos fue bien desde el primer día lo que nos permitió abrir muchísimas oportunidades. Pero cada una que abríamos restaba foco al producto que realmente aportaba valor a nuestros clientes.
Y una vez abierta, cerrar cada oportunidad era un auténtico dolor. Ahí aprendí la importancia de evaluar correctamente las oportunidades, y no abrir ninguna nueva iniciativa si el retorno esperado no es lo suficientemente atractivo.
Pero lo dicho, la mía es tan sólo mi definición. Tenéis otras 35 más en el artículo. Y probablemente la vuestra sea distinta.
La estrategia es difícil. Ser estratégico es imprescindible.