What it means to be a strategist?


Everyone talk about strategy and that they are seeking a person who is a strategist. To know strategy does not mean that you are a strategist. In today’s business environment and financial crisis strategy is more important than ever.  A business strategist is often a senior executives or a consultant who is responsible for determining the direction and the scope of the organizations. They also address organizational issues. Analytical abilities and sound judgment are important qualities of successful business strategists.

There are several meaning of what a strategist is, one of this is:

“A strategist analyses complex environments or problems and designs practical pathways and business solutions to achieve organisational objectives” – Kaye Glamuzina, Head of Strategy

Perhaps the greatest strategist of all time was not a business executive or an entrepreneur but a general. Helmuth von Moltke, chief of the Prussian and German general staffs from 1858 to 1888, engineered the strategy behind the military victories that allowed Otto von Bismarck to assemble a loose league of German states into a powerful empire. A prolific writer and acute thinker, Moltke possessed two important characteristics that made him a superior strategist:

  • The ability to understand the significance of events without being influenced by current opinion, changing attitudes, or his own prejudices.
  • The ability to make decisions quickly and to take the indicated action without being deterred by a perceived danger.

Strategy is a specialist field and must be performed by professionals and not by unskilled personnel. Most of us would never have let an unskilled carpenter, plumber, electrician build our house. Unfortunately, we see too often within corporate management that unskilled executives and corporate boards are driving businesses into bankruptcy due to lack of strategic skills. Some years ago I was consulting an entrepreneurial company, the challenges were that the company had lost its equity and had for ten years had operating losses. The board of the directors did not understand the implications of their strategic decision. The company lost 50 Euro for each services they were selling. How is this possible??? You cannot sell a product for 50 Euro if the cost of it is 100 Euro. Due to this the company had lost all its equity and to avoid bankruptcy, the company had to carry out a share issue to get new financial capital. Despite this the entrepreneur continue as previously which had contributed to lost capital. This is a star examples on how someone don’t understand strategic management.

A successful strategist understands the implications for the long-term growth and prosperity of a business that involves envisaging the future while forgetting the past and, at the same time, managing the present. While this may seem a paradoxical challenge too far, it is the only way businesses can respond to the rapidly changing global business landscape, this is something a good strategist understands. A good strategist can achieve and maintain strategic momentum that confronts an organization and its board of directors every day of their entwined existence. It’s a challenge that involves multiple choices over time—and, on occasion, one or two big choices. As the above mentioned business case shows, very often we see that both organizations and the board of directors of an organization lack the skills and understanding of strategic development. This is catastrophic for the organization, and too often I have seen that board of director is just floating on dead strategy that end bankruptcy due to the lack of strategic skills and understanding.

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