Reading About Strategy Won't Produce a Winning Strategy

Good strategies are doomed by their own success. An especially effective strategy will be studied, repackaged by consultancies, adopted by competitors, and ultimately become a best practice. And, a best practice is never a winning strategy. After all, the core of strategy is differentiation.

The publication of a strategy signals the end of its useful life. In a dynamic environment, it can reflect only the past. In other words, using a published strategy is like fighting with the rules of the last war.


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Citations

Chin, Cedric. “Much Ado About The OODA Loop.” Commonplace - The Commoncog Blog (blog), May 19, 2020. https://commoncog.com/blog/much-ado-about-the-ooda-loop/.

At this point, the idea-industrial complex whirs into work: the management consultants will turn the strategy into a set of cookie-cutter recommendations and sell it to competitors in adjacent (or even not-so-adjacent!) fields; the business professors will race to write papers and books to be sold to the management masses... This marks the beginning of the end of the effectiveness of the strategy. As more competitors learn the specifics of the winning approach, they either begin to adopt the strategy for themselves or learn to counter the strategy (if at all possible). This then makes the winning strategy less effective.

The publication of a specific strategy often changes the environment necessary for the strategy to work — or at least triggers the countdown to the eventual demise of the effectiveness of that strategy. This is the problem that sits at the root of all strategic thinking: it is not enough to learn the strategies of the last war.


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