Chapter 1

Introduction to Strategy in Practice and Strategic Thinking

It is important to remember that no one has ever seen a strategy or touched one; every strategy is an invention, a figment of someone's imagination...

—Henry Mintzberg

In this introductory chapter, we...
  • define and explore some fundamental notions related to strategy and the practice of strategy;
  • review and frame some of the key problems and issues contributing to the ongoing dilemma managers face with strategy;
  • introduce strategic thinking in the context of strategy in practice;
  • reflect on the differences between strategy in practice and strategy as practice; examine strategic planning in the context of strategy in practice and strategic thinking;
  • introduce the strategic thinking roadmap; briefly outline the subsequent chapters of this book that are structured around the strategic thinking process;
  • close with some caveats and useful pointers on strategy in practice.

Strategy: A Persistent Dilemma

Strategy – is it really a figment of someone's imagination? One would hardly come to that conclusion judging by the popularity of the word in the business media. Scarcely any business word is invoked more frequently and with greater fervor. Business leaders take great pride in referring to “their strategy”. A simple search of the Financial Times online ( for the period of the first two quarters of 2012 reveals that the word “strategy” comes up 4,137 times. The term is being used; in fact, it is being used ...

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