Strategy in 6 icons in 60 minutes

When is the last time you heard the word “strategy” or “strategic?” They are common words and largely misunderstood. While strategy is certainly important, it’s means more than just “long-term” or “impactful.”

I teach an introduction to strategy to 400+ sharp, ambitious business students each year. We read, discuss, debate dozens of companies, industries and unpack these 175 key questions. I was asked to put together a 1 hour video on some of the basics of strategy in 2019 and this is what I came up with.

It’s hard to explain anything simply, and “strategy” is no different. To help anchor the discussion, I’d like to offer you these 6 icons which represent many of the core concepts of strategy:

  • Virtuous cycle: a set of activities, not just one thing, that gives a sustainable competitive advantage
  • Choice: it requires trade-offs; you cannot be all things to all people; strategy = what you decide NOT to do
  • Diminishing returns from best practices; yes, you need to be efficient (like everyone else), but that’s not enough
  • Economic moats (preferably wide, and deep) which keeps others away from your profits (treasure)
  • Strategy without implementation = just an idea; it requires commitment, execution, flexibility, process
  • Corporate strategy = where to compete (e.g., geographically, value chain)

Reformed management consultant who now teaches at business school. Business geek.