Strategic view of performance
Strategic view of performance

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1 What do we mean by strategy?

1.1 Activity 1

Activity 1

Take a couple of minutes to think about what you understand by the word ‘strategy’.


The first context in which many of us will have come across the word ‘strategy’ is military. In military parlance, strategy describes the broad set of principles and objectives determining the conduct of a war. Strategy is contrasted with the day-to-day ‘tactical’ decisions taken in the field as events unfold. Similarly, we often talk about strategy in the context of games. A football team may develop a strategy for a match based on an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the other side, the nature and condition of the pitch, and their own strengths and weaknesses. The team's tactics in response to the unfolding events of the match will be guided by that strategy. The idea of strategy has also come to be adopted in the world of business and, to some extent, in not-for-profit organisations.

As we mentioned in the introduction, it is possible to understand strategy from a number of different perspectives. Each of the different perspectives implies a different understanding of what we mean by strategy. For the purposes of this course we will adopt the following broad definition of strategy:

Strategy is the pattern of activities followed by an organisation in pursuit of its long-term purposes.

First, strategy is concerned with the broad pattern of an organisation's activities, not the day-to-day detail. Second, strategy is concerned with the long term. Finally, strategy is concerned with organisational purposes: these may have a commercial focus, such as market penetration, profitability and growth; or, for some organisations, they may concern political or social goals.

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