Strategy

Strategy

Overview
Strategy, a word of military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 origin, refers to a plan
Plan
A plan is typically any diagram or list of steps with timing and resources, used to achieve an objective. See also strategy. It is commonly understood as a temporal set of intended actions, through which one expects to achieve a goal...

 of action designed to achieve a particular goal. In military usage
Military strategy
Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organizations to pursue desired strategic goals. Derived from the Greek strategos, strategy when it appeared in use during the 18th century, was seen in its narrow sense as the "art of the general", 'the art of arrangement' of troops...

 strategy is distinct from tactics, which are concerned with the conduct of an engagement, while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked. How a battle is fought is a matter of tactics: the terms and conditions that it is fought on and whether it should be fought at all is a matter of strategy, which is part of the four levels of warfare: political goals or grand strategy
Grand strategy
Grand strategy comprises the "purposeful employment of all instruments of power available to a security community". Military historian B. H. Liddell Hart says about grand strategy:...

, strategy, operations, and tactics
Tactic
Tactic may refer to:*Military tactics*Chess tactic*Tactic , a municipality in the Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz*Tactics , an Australian band*Tactics , a Japanese visual novel studio*TACTIC , a U.S...

.
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Quotations

Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war?

The Bible: 2 Kings, 18:20

To win by strategy is no less the role of a general than to win by arms.

Julius Caesar [Gaius Julius Caesar] (100–44 B.C.), Roman general, statesman. The Civil War, 1.72

Business strategy is a battle plan for a better future.

Patrick Dixon Building a Better Business (2005)

You can have the greatest strategy in the world but what is the point if no one cares?

Patrick Dixon Building a Better Business (2005)

Change is the (occasionally) skilful redirecting, renewing, and reconnecting of stuff (like time, money, things, jokes, knowledge, hopes, passion, and dreams) into something better for us, for someone, even for everyone.

Max Mckeown, '2007, Management Issues' - www.unshrink.org

All strategy is executed through "common" people. If they don't work with the strategy then it will fail however clever, visionary, or insightful. When people work to make a strategy a success then it may succeed even if it is flawed.

Max Mckeown, '2006, Management Issues'

In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell.

Jack Welch, Winning (2005)
Encyclopedia
Strategy, a word of military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 origin, refers to a plan
Plan
A plan is typically any diagram or list of steps with timing and resources, used to achieve an objective. See also strategy. It is commonly understood as a temporal set of intended actions, through which one expects to achieve a goal...

 of action designed to achieve a particular goal. In military usage
Military strategy
Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organizations to pursue desired strategic goals. Derived from the Greek strategos, strategy when it appeared in use during the 18th century, was seen in its narrow sense as the "art of the general", 'the art of arrangement' of troops...

 strategy is distinct from tactics, which are concerned with the conduct of an engagement, while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked. How a battle is fought is a matter of tactics: the terms and conditions that it is fought on and whether it should be fought at all is a matter of strategy, which is part of the four levels of warfare: political goals or grand strategy
Grand strategy
Grand strategy comprises the "purposeful employment of all instruments of power available to a security community". Military historian B. H. Liddell Hart says about grand strategy:...

, strategy, operations, and tactics
Tactic
Tactic may refer to:*Military tactics*Chess tactic*Tactic , a municipality in the Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz*Tactics , an Australian band*Tactics , a Japanese visual novel studio*TACTIC , a U.S...

. Building on the work of many thinkers on the subject, one can define strategy as "a comprehensive way to try to pursue political ends, including the threat or actual use of force, in a dialectic of wills – there have to be at least two sides to a conflict. These sides interact, and thus a Strategy will rarely be successful if it shows no adaptability." Strategy has been extended beyond its traditional fields, military and grand strategy, to business, economics, game theory and other fields.

Etymology


The word strategy derives from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 "στρατηγία" (strategia), "office of general, command, generalship", in turn from "στρατηγός" (strategos), "leader or commander of an army, general", a compound
Compound (linguistics)
In linguistics, a compound is a lexeme that consists of more than one stem. Compounding or composition is the word formation that creates compound lexemes...

 of "στρατός" (stratos), "army, host" + "ἀγός" (agos), "leader, chief", in turn from "ἄγω" (ago), "to lead". No evidence of it being used in a modern sense in Ancient Greek, but find it in Byzantine documents from the 6th century onwards, and most notably in the work attributed to Emperor Leo VI the Wise of Byzantium.
The word was first used in German as "Strategie" in a translation of Leo's work in 1777, shortly thereafter in French as "stratégie" by Leo's French translator, and was first attested in English 1810.

Military strategy



Military strategy, as per Liddell Hart, is "the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfil the ends of policy". By virtue of this definition, strategy, firstly, becomes applicable both to peace and war, and, secondly, clearly subordinates strategy to a larger purpose, namely politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

. This has led to the development of another term to differentiate military strategy from the overarching strategy applicable at the highest levels incorporating all the ingredients of national power to achieve national policy - grand strategy
Grand strategy
Grand strategy comprises the "purposeful employment of all instruments of power available to a security community". Military historian B. H. Liddell Hart says about grand strategy:...

. Yet others contest the reduction of strategy to second rung, arguing that strategy always encompassed use of other instruments of the state, such as diplomacy and economic warfare. The purely military focussed aspect of strategy was given a subordinate term, operational art.

Historic texts such as Chanakya
Chanakya
Chānakya was a teacher to the first Maurya Emperor Chandragupta , and the first Indian emperor generally considered to be the architect of his rise to power. Traditionally, Chanakya is also identified by the names Kautilya and VishnuGupta, who authored the ancient Indian political treatise...

's Arthashastra
Arthashastra
The Arthashastra is an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy which identifies its author by the names Kautilya and , who are traditionally identified with The Arthashastra (IAST: Arthaśāstra) is an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and...

written in the 3rd century BC, Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu
Sun Wu , style name Changqing , better known as Sun Tzu or Sunzi , was an ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who is traditionally believed, and who is most likely, to have authored The Art of War, an influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy...

's The Art of War
The Art of War
The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise that is attributed to Sun Tzu , a high ranking military general and strategist during the late Spring and Autumn period...

, written in China 2,500 years ago, the political strategy of Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian historian, philosopher, humanist, and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He is one of the main founders of modern political science. He was a diplomat, political philosopher, playwright, and a civil servant of the Florentine Republic...

's The Prince
The Prince
The Prince is a political treatise by the Italian diplomat, historian and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. From correspondence a version appears to have been distributed in 1513, using a Latin title, De Principatibus . But the printed version was not published until 1532, five years after...

, written in 1513, or Carl von Clausewitz
Carl von Clausewitz
Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz was a Prussian soldier and German military theorist who stressed the moral and political aspects of war...

's On War
On War
Vom Kriege is a book on war and military strategy by Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz , written mostly after the Napoleonic wars, between 1816 and 1830, and published posthumously by his wife in 1832. It has been translated into English several times as On War...

, published in 1832, as with the Japanese classic The book of five rings
The Book of Five Rings
is a text on kenjutsu and the martial arts in general, written by the samurai warrior Miyamoto Musashi circa 1645. There have been various translations made over the years, and it enjoys an audience considerably broader than only that of martial artists: for instance, some business leaders find its...

by Miyamoto Mushashi written in 1645, are well known, and highly influential. Even though the term "strategy" was not used before the end of the 18th century, and subsequently shifted its meaning, there were several insightful writers on strategy between Machiavelli and Clausewitz, like Matthew Sutcliffe
Matthew Sutcliffe
Matthew Sutcliffe was an English clergyman, academic and lawyer. He became Dean of Exeter, and wrote extensively on religious matters as a controversialist. He served as chaplain to His Majesty King James I of England. He was the founder of Chelsea College, a royal centre for the writing of...

, Bernardino de Mendoza
Bernardino de Mendoza
Bernardino de Mendoza was a Spanish military commander, a diplomat and a writer on military history and politics.- Life and works :Bernardino de Mendoza was born in Guadalajara, Spain around 1540...

, Santa Cruz de Marcenado (Álvaro de Navia Osorio y Vigil, marqués de Santa Cruz de Marcenado
Álvaro de Navia Osorio y Vigil, marqués de Santa Cruz de Marcenado
Don Alvaro Navia-Osorio y Vigil, third Marques of Santa Cruz de Marcenado, born in 1684 in Santa Maria de Vega in Asturia, Spain; killed in action near Oran in North Africa in 1732, was a Spanish diplomat, general, and author...

), Guibert (Jacques Antoine Hippolyte, Comte de Guibert
Jacques Antoine Hippolyte, Comte de Guibert
Jacques-Antoine-Hippolyte, Comte de Guibert was a French general and military writer. Born at Montabaun, he accompanied his father in wars before he became a general himself...

), and August Otto Rühle von Lilienstern
August Otto Rühle von Lilienstern
August Otto Rühle von Lilienstern, born 1780, died 1847. Prussian officer, joined Scharnhorst's Academy for Officers in the same promotion as Carl von Clausewitz. Later, they both taught at the Prussian General War School, which would become the War Academy, and Rühle would be Clausewitz' second...

. In recent times, the major conflicts of the nineteenth century and the two World Wars have spurred strategic thinkers such as Mahan
Alfred Thayer Mahan
Alfred Thayer Mahan was a United States Navy flag officer, geostrategist, and historian, who has been called "the most important American strategist of the nineteenth century." His concept of "sea power" was based on the idea that countries with greater naval power will have greater worldwide...

, Douhet, Giulio Douhet
Giulio Douhet
General Giulio Douhet was an Italian general and air power theorist. He was a key proponent of strategic bombing in aerial warfare...

, Liddell Hart, and later, Andre Beaufre
André Beaufre
André Beaufre was a French general. Beaufre ended World War II with the rank of colonel....

. The Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 led to a host of American thinkers contributing to the basic theory.

Strategies in game theory


In game theory
Game theory
Game theory is a mathematical method for analyzing calculated circumstances, such as in games, where a person’s success is based upon the choices of others...

, a strategy refers to one of the options that a player
Player (game)
A player of a game is a participant therein. The term 'player' is used with this same meaning both in game theory and in ordinary recreational games....

 can choose. That is, every player in a non-cooperative game
Non-cooperative game
In game theory, a non-cooperative game is one in which players make decisions independently. Thus, while they may be able to cooperate, any cooperation must be self-enforcing....

 has a set of possible strategies, and must choose one of the choices.

A strategy must specify what action will happen in each contingent state of the game—e.g. if the opponent does A, then take action B, whereas if the opponent does C, take action D.

Strategies in game theory may be random (mixed) or deterministic (pure). That is, in some games, players choose mixed strategies. Pure strategies can be thought of as a special case of mixed strategies, in which only probabilities 0 or 1 are assigned to actions.

Strategy based games all have a similar objective where the player thinks through a sequence of solutions to determine the preferred favorite in order to defeat the opponent. Chess
Chess
Chess is a two-player board game played on a chessboard, a square-checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. It is one of the world's most popular games, played by millions of people worldwide at home, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.Each player...

 is a common strategy game played throughout the world.

Noted texts on strategy


In the 20th century, the subject of strategic management
Strategic management
Strategic management is a field that deals with the major intended and emergent initiatives taken by general managers on behalf of owners, involving utilization of resources, to enhance the performance of firms in their external environments...

 has been particularly applied to organizations, most typically to business firms and corporations.

The nature of historic texts differs greatly from area to area, and given the nature of strategy itself, there are some potential parallels between various forms of strategy—noting, for example, the popularity of The Art of War as a business book. Each domain generally has its own foundational texts, as well as more recent contributions to new applications of strategy. Some of these are:
  • Political strategy
    Politics
    Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

    • The Prince
      The Prince
      The Prince is a political treatise by the Italian diplomat, historian and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. From correspondence a version appears to have been distributed in 1513, using a Latin title, De Principatibus . But the printed version was not published until 1532, five years after...

      , published in 1532 by Niccolò Machiavelli
    • Arthashastra
      Arthashastra
      The Arthashastra is an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy which identifies its author by the names Kautilya and , who are traditionally identified with The Arthashastra (IAST: Arthaśāstra) is an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and...

      , written in the 4th century BC by Chanakya
      Chanakya
      Chānakya was a teacher to the first Maurya Emperor Chandragupta , and the first Indian emperor generally considered to be the architect of his rise to power. Traditionally, Chanakya is also identified by the names Kautilya and VishnuGupta, who authored the ancient Indian political treatise...

    • The Book of the Courtier
      The Book of the Courtier
      The Book of the Courtier is a courtesy book. It was written by Baldassare Castiglione over the course of many years, beginning in 1508, and published in 1528 by the Aldine Press just before his death...

      by Baldassare Castiglione
      Baldassare Castiglione
      Baldassare Castiglione, count of was an Italian courtier, diplomat, soldier and a prominent Renaissance author.-Biography:Castiglione was born into an illustrious Lombard family at Casatico, near Mantua, where his family had constructed an impressive palazzo...


  • Military strategy
    Military strategy
    Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organizations to pursue desired strategic goals. Derived from the Greek strategos, strategy when it appeared in use during the 18th century, was seen in its narrow sense as the "art of the general", 'the art of arrangement' of troops...

    :
    • The Art of War
      The Art of War
      The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise that is attributed to Sun Tzu , a high ranking military general and strategist during the late Spring and Autumn period...

      , written in the 6th century BC by Sun Tzu
      Sun Tzu
      Sun Wu , style name Changqing , better known as Sun Tzu or Sunzi , was an ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who is traditionally believed, and who is most likely, to have authored The Art of War, an influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy...

    • The Art of War
      The Art of War (Machiavelli)
      Art of War is a treatise by the Italian Renaissance political philosopher and historian Niccolò Machiavelli.The format of Art of War is a socratic dialogue...

      , by Niccolò Machiavelli
    • The Art of War
      The Art of War
      The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise that is attributed to Sun Tzu , a high ranking military general and strategist during the late Spring and Autumn period...

      , written in the 19th century AD by Baron Antoine-Henri Jomini
      Antoine-Henri Jomini
      Antoine-Henri, baron Jomini was a general in the French and later in the Russian service, and one of the most celebrated writers on the Napoleonic art of war...

    • The Book of Five Rings
      The Book of Five Rings
      is a text on kenjutsu and the martial arts in general, written by the samurai warrior Miyamoto Musashi circa 1645. There have been various translations made over the years, and it enjoys an audience considerably broader than only that of martial artists: for instance, some business leaders find its...

      , written in the 17th century AD by Miyamoto Musashi
      Miyamoto Musashi
      , also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke or, by his Buddhist name, Niten Dōraku, was a Japanese swordsman and rōnin. Musashi, as he was often simply known, became renowned through stories of his excellent swordsmanship in numerous duels, even from a very young age...

    • Strategikon
      Strategikon
      The Strategicon or Strategikon is a manual of war by written in the late 6th century and usually attributed to Byzantine Emperor Maurice; it is moreover a practical manual, "a rather modest elementary handbook," in the words of its introduction, "for those devoting themselves to generalship."The...

      , written in the 6th century AD by the Byzantine emperor Maurice
      Maurice (emperor)
      Maurice was Byzantine Emperor from 582 to 602.A prominent general in his youth, Maurice fought with success against the Sassanid Persians...

    • Taktikon
      Tactica of Emperor Leo VI the Wise
      The Tactica is a military treatise written by or on behalf of Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise in ca. 895-908. Drawing on earlier authors such as Aelian, Onasander and the Strategikon of emperor Maurice, it is one of the major works on Byzantine military tactics, written on the eve of Byzantium's...

      , by the Byzantine emperor Leo VI the Wise
      Leo VI the Wise
      Leo VI, surnamed the Wise or the Philosopher , was Byzantine emperor from 886 to 912. The second ruler of the Macedonian dynasty , he was very well-read, leading to his surname...

    • Reflexiones Militares by Santa Cruz de Marcenado
    • Essai général de la Tactique by Guibert (Jacques Antoine Hippolyte, Comte de Guibert
      Jacques Antoine Hippolyte, Comte de Guibert
      Jacques-Antoine-Hippolyte, Comte de Guibert was a French general and military writer. Born at Montabaun, he accompanied his father in wars before he became a general himself...

      )
    • On War
      On War
      Vom Kriege is a book on war and military strategy by Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz , written mostly after the Napoleonic wars, between 1816 and 1830, and published posthumously by his wife in 1832. It has been translated into English several times as On War...

      , by Carl von Clausewitz
      Carl von Clausewitz
      Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz was a Prussian soldier and German military theorist who stressed the moral and political aspects of war...

       (19th century)
    • On Thermonuclear War
      On Thermonuclear War
      On Thermonuclear War is a book by Herman Kahn, a military strategist at the RAND Corporation, although it was written only a year before he left RAND to form the Hudson Institute. It is a controversial treatise on the nature and theory of war in the thermonuclear age...

      , by Herman Kahn
      Herman Kahn
      Herman Kahn was one of the preeminent futurists of the latter third of the twentieth century. In the early 1970s he predicted the rise of Japan as a major world power. He was a founder of the Hudson Institute think tank and originally came to prominence as a military strategist and systems...

    • Strategy, by B.H. Liddell Hart
    • On Guerrilla Warfare, by Mao Zedong
      Mao Zedong
      Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

    • The Influence of Sea Power upon History
      The Influence of Sea Power upon History
      The Influence of Sea Power Upon History: 1660-1783 is a history of naval warfare written in 1890 by Alfred Thayer Mahan. It details the role of sea power throughout history and discusses the various factors needed to support and achieve sea power, with emphasis on having the largest and most...

      , by Alfred Thayer Mahan
      Alfred Thayer Mahan
      Alfred Thayer Mahan was a United States Navy flag officer, geostrategist, and historian, who has been called "the most important American strategist of the nineteenth century." His concept of "sea power" was based on the idea that countries with greater naval power will have greater worldwide...

    • The Air Campaign, by Colonel John A. Warden, III
      Warden's Five Rings
      Warden's Five Rings represent a theory of military strategic attack, based on five levels of system attributes. They are named in honor of Col. John A...

    • Strategy, by Edward N. Luttwak

  • Economic strategy
    • General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in 1936 by John Maynard Keynes
      John Maynard Keynes
      John Maynard Keynes, Baron Keynes of Tilton, CB FBA , was a British economist whose ideas have profoundly affected the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, as well as the economic policies of governments...

  • Business strategy
    • Competitive Strategy, by Michael Porter
      Michael Porter
      Michael Eugene Porter is the Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at Harvard Business School. He is a leading authority on company strategy and the competitiveness of nations and regions. Michael Porter’s work is recognized in many governments, corporations and academic circles globally...

    • Strategy Concept I: Five Ps for Strategy and Strategy Concept II: Another Look at Why Organizations Need Strategies, by Henry Mintzberg
      Henry Mintzberg
      Professor Henry Mintzberg, is an internationally renowned academic and author on business and management. He is currently the Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at the Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where he has been teaching since...

    • Winning In FastTime by John A. Warden, III
      Warden's Five Rings
      Warden's Five Rings represent a theory of military strategic attack, based on five levels of system attributes. They are named in honor of Col. John A...

       and Leland A. Russell, 2002.

  • General strategy
    • Strategy Safari
      Strategy Safari
      Strategy Safari , subtitled "A Guided Tour Through the Wilds of Strategic Management" by Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand and Joseph Lampel is an overview of the full field of academic and business studies of strategy, based on a previous lecture series by Mintzberg.-Content:In addition to an...

      , by Henry Mintzberg
      Henry Mintzberg
      Professor Henry Mintzberg, is an internationally renowned academic and author on business and management. He is currently the Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at the Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where he has been teaching since...

      , Bruce Ahlstrand
      Bruce Ahlstrand
      Bruce Ahlstrand is a senior faculty member in the Business Administration program at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. A graduate of the University of Toronto, the London School of Economics and University of Oxford, Ahlstrand has been contributing to the field of strategic management for...

       and Joseph Lampel.
  • Others
    • Marcel Détienne
      Marcel Detienne
      Marcel Detienne is a Belgian historian and specialist in the study of ancient Greece. He is Professor Emeritus at The Johns Hopkins University, where he held the Basil L...

       and Jean-Pierre Vernant
      Jean-Pierre Vernant
      Jean-Pierre Vernant was a French historian and anthropologist, specialist in ancient Greece. Influenced by Claude Lévi-Strauss, Vernant developed a structuralist approach to Greek myth, tragedy, and society which would itself be influential among classical scholars...

      , Les Ruses de l'intelligence, Paris: Flammarion, 1993 (on the role of the Greek Metis
      Metis (mythology)
      In Greek mythology, Metis was of the Titan generation and, like several primordial figures, an Oceanid, in the sense that Metis was born of Oceanus and Tethys, of an earlier age than Zeus and his siblings...

      )

See also