Strategy and the Strategist: How it Matters Who Develops the Strategy
32 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2014 Last revised: 13 Dec 2019
Date Written: July 2, 2016
This paper addresses primarily two questions. First, when or why should a company’s strategy be developed by its CEO versus by some outside analyst or other insider? Second, how does strategy, properly defined, interact with vision (in the sense of a strong belief) about various decisions? In the process, the paper also identifies three new criteria that make a decision strategic and derives two new explanations why strategies often reflect the background of the strategist. The paper studies these questions using a (new) functional definition of strategy as ‘the smallest set of choices to optimally guide the other choices.’ With regard to the first question – when or why should a company’s strategy be developed by its CEO – the paper shows that strategy formulation by the CEO (or by a strategist with control over the right decisions) leads to both a better strategy and better execution when the strategic decision is controversial. With regard to the second question, the paper shows that a strategist’s vision (as a strong belief) may improve implementation, but only if two conditions are met: the strong belief must be about a strategic decision and that decision must be controlled by the strategist. Vision about non-strategic decisions may in fact hurt the strategy’s implementation.
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