Why can’t we develop a good strategy even if we learn how to make it?

What would you say if you were asked, “What is a good strategy?”

There are many answers that come to mind, such as strategies that will lead to the realization of the vision, strategies that will help us win against the competition, and strategies that will make us profitable.

And what if you were asked what you consciously do to create a good strategy?

It might be difficult to answer.

There are many books on what strategy is and how to create a good strategy. Some of you may have read these books and learned from them. However, when we ask ourselves, “How can we create a good strategy?” we may feel that we can no longer answer the question.

Learning the essentials of a good strategy or learning about examples of good strategies in other industries does not necessarily mean that we can create a good strategy for our own company, or for our own team or for ourselves.

There is a critical disconnect between “understanding” and “creating” a good strategy.

In the chapters beginning with this article, I would like to explore strategy in depth from the perspective of the Consciousness(ISHIKI) management, with a view to addressing the issues regarding the gap between understanding and creating a good strategy.

What is a strategy?

First, let’s review the definition of strategy. There are many different definitions of strategy by management scholars, but I define it as follows.

Definition of strategy (Ochiai’s idea)
A story of realizing a vision (future image) with probability and developability

※A story is a narrative woven by stakeholders with a unique intention.

To use the metaphor of mountain climbing, strategy is the “way to climb the mountain” toward the vision (future image). If our vision is the top of a mountain, there are many options for how to climb it. Do we want to take the shortest route or enjoy the scenery while climbing? Do you want to climb with just a few elite professionals, or do you want to gather a group of peers? There are countless variations.

From the myriad of variations that exist, the strategy is what kind of climbing method we choose as our will.

This figure shows the relationship between vision, strategy, and goals, using the metaphor of mountain climbing. The vision shows the mountain to be climbed. The strategy shows the path to climb the mountain. The goal shows where we want to be at any given time along the way.

In this way, strategy can be seen as the link between medium- and long-term visions and short-term goals. By being able to draw a strategy in our own way, we will be able to see the connection between what we are doing now and what we want to be in the future. The same can be said for a company, a business, a department, a team, or even an individual.

Misconceptions about strategy

I talked about the gap between “understanding” and “creating” a good strategy, and I would like to talk about some of the misconceptions about strategy that can create this gap.

(Misconception 1) Strategy describes only the business

If we read books on strategy, we notice that most of them refer only to the business (the thing) and rarely to the organization or people. Even when they do talk about organizations and people, it is almost always in terms of organizations and people as resources to implement the strategy.

This is a one-sided view. In essence, strategy is inseparable from the energy and subjective truth of each individual. Therefore, a strategy is not only a description of a business (business-side), but also a description of a person or an organization (people-side), starting from the energy and subjective truth of each person, and the business-side and people-side must be described as two sides of the same coin.

(Misconception 2) Strategy comes first, then the organization and people follow the strategy

As I mentioned earlier, strategy has both aspects of people and business. The two are inextricably linked, and strategy is a story that develops through interaction between them. From this point of view, it is a one-sided view that “organizations and people follow strategy (in this context, it means “business”).

People and business are inextricably linked, interacting and developing together. If asked which is more fundamental, I believe that people’ s energy and subjective truth are the root, and business is the result of that.

(Misconception 3) Strategy is a static image

While few people may think that strategy is a static image, I believe that more than a few people think that a strategy is about framework, such as segmentation, targeting, and positioning (STP). Frameworks such as STP can be said to be static images of a single point in time.

This static view is also a one-sided view, and a true strategy is supposed to be a dynamic story that evolves over time. I am not saying that a static view such as STP is wrong, but in order to create a state of differentiated competitive advantage as described in STP, there must be a dynamic story that develops over time, such as first doing thing A, then achieving B, and then C.

(Misconception 4) Only the leader conceives strategies

Even if we have some idea of what a good strategy is, the fact that we have difficulty answering the question of how we can create a good strategy suggests that there is a misconception that strategy is something that only a few people, such as managers and business leaders, can create.

Strategy is not something that only leaders conceive, but something that everyone thinks about. Strategy is not only something that exists at the company-wide level, but is also something that can be described from each perspective of business units, departments, our own team, and ourselves while being related to each other.

Strategies at each level are developed not by the leaders of each level alone, but in collaboration with team members.

Internal sensations when developing a strategy

I have talked about the misconceptions of strategy that create the gap between “understanding” and “creating” a good strategy, but there is another factor that creates this gap.

That is, when we understand strategy, it is often expressed in macroscopic, consequential, and integral terms, whereas when we create strategy, it must be accompanied by a microscopic, causal, and differential sense, but few describe it.

Have you ever had the experience of being taught a sport (such as golf) and having the external form (such as the way you swing) pointed out to you, but not being able to reproduce it properly, or not feeling comfortable with it?

This is because form in sports is macroscopic, consequential, and integral, whereas when we move our own bodies, we need microscopic, causal, and differential internal sensations. Even if we are advised only about the former, we cannot reproduce it well without hints about the latter sensation.

Just as in this sports example, in strategy, even if we understand the external requirements of a good strategy, we cannot create a good strategy if we do not grasp the internal sensations that create a good strategy.

So how can we grasp the internal sensation of creating a strategy?

It is all about Consciousness(ISHIKI) management. As I have repeatedly mentioned in my previous articles, consciousness is the root of phenomena. Consciousness leads to action, and action becomes the cause of phenomena appearing, which in turn creates results such as financial results.

Therefore, having an internal sensation of creating strategies can be replaced by the proposition of “making our consciousness conscious (the ISHIKI Management) when creating strategies.”

In the chapter on the theme of “strategy” starting with this article, I will talk about how to create a good strategy from the perspective of the consciousness(ISHIKI) management.

Here are the quests of the day. (If you’d like, please share your thoughts in the comments.)

・What, if any, strategies that you have been involved in (your company’s strategy, your team’s strategy, etc.) did you find that misconceptions about strategy seemed to apply to? And what results did the strategy produce?

Misconceptions about strategy
(Misconception 1) Strategy describes only the business
(Misconception 2) Strategy comes first, then the organization and people follow the strategy
(Misconception 3) Strategy is a static image
(Misconception 4) Only the leader conceives strategies

・What topics would you like to develop a strategy for that you don’t currently have one for? (e.g., a strategy to realize your team’s vision, a strategy to realize your career)

Bunshiro Ochiai

Founder and CEO of a training company, Alue | MS in Particle Physics. | BCG | Questing “What is the paradigm for integrating contradictions in management?”