Strategy differentiates leaders and businesses. Each entity pursues their own strategy to achieve long-term goals that are based on the target market (e.g., healthcare, technology, consumer, seasonal) and desired impact (e.g., revenue, profit, community service). Ultimately, the best answer to “what is strategy?” is thinking about how and where to compete and finding ways to win. Strategy and strategic leadership are essential for success.
The hardest game
In many ways, creating a business is tantamount to competing in one of the most difficult games there is. The terms of the game are constantly changing and business owners have the ability to react and even manipulate the playing field to find an advantage. For instance, a crucial element of strategy is finding the best location to launch a business. To those starting an Internet service, considerations like foot traffic and local demographics are probably not as important as things like real-estate value, shipping costs and Internet options. On the other hand, foot traffic is of particular interest to someone opening a restaurant. For the restaurant owner, identifying local competitors’ strengths and weaknesses is a great way to fine-tune business operations, developing a strategy to disrupt the status quo by providing superior service, unique food or unbeatable prices.
Sometimes, even the best-conceived strategies will crumble in the face of an insurmountable challenge. In these cases, strategic leadership can make the difference between a failed business and one that is able to survive through adaptation. In the business world, strategic leadership is the ability to not only design a new approach, but also implement the changes in ways that help ensure long-term success. Strategic considerations in these cases include finding cost-effective solutions that also have the potential to improve the business environment or provide a competitive advantage.
The value of strategic thinking
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) teaches students how to think strategically to understand what is strategy and how to design effective business plans. There are also online MBA programs that give students alternative routes to an MBA, delivering the full spectrum of the business curriculum in a convenient and flexible package. For everyone interested in becoming a business leader or owner, an MBA is a great pathway to understanding strategy and how to think strategically.
A business at the cutting-edge of its market relies on skilled individuals to stay at the front of the pack. For those interested in leading or creating successful businesses, entering a traditional or online MBA program is a great way to learn strategic leadership. Don’t be left speechless when asked to describe your company’s strategy.