Entrepreneur’s Diary #96 – Yet Again: Strategy!

Well, I already wrote several articles about strategy in my entrepreneur’s diary. Because, in my entrepreneurial life, strategy has been a painful topic for a long time. Again and again, I tried to plan the future. I attempted to develop theories about the market and the competition, to judge technologies, to foresee market developments and to draw conclusions that might allow me to formulate plans and then realize them.

And I felt I was not up to the task. Yet my “entrepreneurial super-ego” kept forcing me to come up with a strategy. And it also compelled me to tell it to others. This is how I came to believe I should do and commumicate things I myself did not believe in.
In retrospect, I must say: the strategy concept never really worked!

The things that were eventually a success where those that had not been planned. With predictable regularity, the plans that had been logically and rationally formed failed, regardless of the fact that at least some of them had been really well validated, researched and secured in all possible directions.

Today, I believe strategy is what promotes the organization of an enterprise. It is the miracle responsible for the survival of an enterprise as a fluctuating construction in the flow of time. Enterprises are social systems. They are directed towards a business and mercantile goal. These kinds of social systems are more like human beings than machines. Just like humans develop constructs, enterprises will also develop collective constructs. You cannot control them. Consequently, the organization of the social system “enterprise” is something very special.

I rather like comparing it to this:

Let us assume an enterprise were a human body. The organization contains all that controls and moves the body, as well as lets it function properly. We might be talking the nervous system, the blood circulation, the muscles, the lymphatic vessels, and much more.
In order for all of these elements to work, you need a healthy body. Consequently, I have to preserve the health of this body – in this comparison the enterprise and its organization. So it is the job of the strategy to keep the enterprise healthy.
Naturally, this comparison, too, is a little lopsided. But at least it gives you a vague idea about the complexity and difficulty of enterprise organization. Because an enterprise is a living thing.

What strategy should achieve:

It is the normative power helping the enterprise to define itself against all others. It determines the attitude of mind, the decision making process and the values on which all behaviour is based. It will guarantee that more and more decisions made are the “correct” decisions, instead of the “wrong” ones. It helps those who have to act when they need to determine what is good and bad for the enterprise.

This is a definition of strategy I like. It is also helpful. Because now everyone who wants to work strategically knows what to do: determine what is good and bad and do the right thing more often than the wrong thing.

And this is something you can only do through comrades in arms, both in an enterprise and in all other social systems. And those comrades in arms are persons in the enterprise, rather than an often lonely management caste thinking they should develop visions and control people when it comes to realizing those visions. The strengths of a good strategy are its density in and nearness to reality, rather than logically founded mind games.

The best kind of strategy is if all stakeholders and parties concerned in an enterprise feel the same way about where the enterprise should be headed. Just like all the cells of a body must “act in concert” if the body is supposed to live.

(Translated by EG)


For more articles of my entrepreneur’s diary, click here:Drehscheibe!

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