The essence of strategy is the thoughtful narrowing of options based on clear policies, guidelines, or values that the strategist believes will maximize the odds of achieving some result.
If the strategy is legible, it should facilitate clear decision-making in that, when presented with a number of options, the "strategic" option—that is, the one that's consistent with the strategy—should be abundantly clear and the ones that aren't can easily be eliminated.
Of course, the art of strategy is in determining what those guidelines are. That's the hard part: it takes careful study and analysis of the problem space so that the all-important question of "What is going on here?" can be answered with some (but never complete) confidence. The strategist needs to be able to articulate succinctly the nature of the problem space, and develop a hypothesis about how pressure or effort can be exerted against it in order to win some advantage.
From that, the right constraints can be defined; from there, the activities that the team or organization will—and will not—pursue in order to address the challenge that faces them.
- Strategy provides a framework for bridging the gap between the current state and an ideal state - Strategy creates a framework, not a plan, that guides action rather than specifying it.
- Strategy directs resources to maximize the impact of effort - Strategy is about focusing resources; this requires clear constraints that mitigate the risk of strategic leakage
- Identify the path not taken - Recording which opportunities have been rejected helps clarify the lines of constraint
- Strategy requires rejecting some good opportunities in favour of others - Constraints mean that some opportunities, even good ones, may be rejected in favour of alternatives.