The Art of Strategy

Topics: Strategic planning, Strategic management, Management Pages: 8 (2639 words) Published: May 25, 2014
The Art of Strategy

The ongoing debate on the concept and definition of strategy is as interesting as the process of making the strategy itself. This discussion happens probably because different organisations (business entity, non-profit, governments, non-government, military, etc.) interpret strategy differently, one organisations might see it as a CEO's personal mission while other perceives it as a tool to achieve the organisation's collectively decided goals. One organisation sees it as a game plan while other defines it as a set of pattern in a stream of not planned actions. Hofer and Schendel tried to give a comparison of some of the notable strategy definition's formulation as shown in Table 1. It can be clearly see that although slightly different from one another, there is some consistency as well in it. In addition, one think to note is the way an organisation defines the concept of a strategy will affects the way they formulate their strategies and the strategies resulted (Evered, 1983, p.60). Coming from this situation, this essay will try to identify the concept of strategy using the war analogy to offer another perspective on what strategy is and the implications of the said perception.

Figure 1. Hofer and Schendel comparison of various author’s concepts of strategy and the strategy formulation process in the business management field (Everend, 1983, p. 60)

The Art of War
In this essay, I will use the same approach as James Brian Quinn (1996, pp.5-6), by using the history of the Kingdom of Macedon to illustrate the essence of strategy from my point of view.

Figure 2. The Kingdom of Macedon, from Wikipedia, Map Macedonia 336 BC-en, (2009)

Philip II and Alexander III of Macedon had very clear goals. They wanted to established their supremacy by conquer the other city-states in Ancient Greek area and put them under the Kingdom of Macedon. Moreover, they also need Athens’ troops to be in their alliance to defeat Persian Empire. When the city of Amphissa did a sacred land violation, the Macedonians used it as an opportunity to interfere. On their way to punish Amphissa, they made a detour in Elatea and built a defence base. Following this, Philip sent a peace offer to Thebes and Athens which got rejected by both parties and led to resort to battle. The Macedonians then made a scheme to prepare themselves in winning the battle using their specific strengths in the new spear technology, their strong phalanx’s formation, as well as the powerful cavalry. However, they knew that they were outnumbered and will face the best ground soldiers in the world. Therefore, they decided to attack Thebes and Athens from Chaeronea which is lightly armed using their strongest units. They also split their force, Philip engaged the full force phalanxes to the right wing and Alexander commanded the cavalry to the left wing. After fought hard Philip deliberately withdrew his troops. The Athenians on the left followed which made them breaking their army lines. After the enemy’s unity broke, Alexander attacked from the left side (the Theban lines). At the same time, Philip’s army then pressed forward and quickly scatter and defeat the enemy. After the victory at Chaeronea, Philip and Alexander then occupied the other city-states unchallenged and declared it as a Hellenic Alliance. Later on the Hellenic Alliance will try to expand its authority to the Persian Empire.

From the illustration above, several apparent points could be pointed out. The king’s and his successor’s grand strategy was to establish its dominance throughout the Greek land. In order to achieve it, they arranged a strategy which was to conquer all city-states and put them under the Kingdom of Macedon’s wing, either using peace offers or battles. Should the battles arise, they need to made tactics on the spot to win the battles, like the one they made in Chaeronea. So in this military context, the word “strategy” can...

References: Andrews, K. R. 1. (1980). The concept of corporate strategy. Homewood, Ill: R. D. Irwin.
Evered, R. (1983). So what is strategy? Long Range Planning, 16(3), 57-72
Hax, A. C. (1990). Redefining the concept of strategy and the strategy formation process. Strategy & Leadership, 18(3), 34-39.
Hax, A. C., & Majluf, N. S. (1988). The concept of strategy and the strategy formation process. Interfaces, 18(3), 99-109.
Mintzberg, H and Quinn, J.B, The Strategy Process: Concepts, Content, Cases, 3rd Edition, Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1996
Phillips, L. (2011). What is strategy? Journal of the Operational Research Society, 62(5), 926-929.
Porter, M. (1996). What is strategy?. BOULDER: Harvard Business Review. 74(6), 61-78.
Raynor, M. (1998). That vision thing: Do we need it? Long Range Planning, 31(3), 368-376
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