Preface to the First Edition
Strategy is still a source of contention in most organizations. It seems that since the beginning of time man has associated strategy with mystery and esoteric rituals restricted to only an enlightened inner circle. The ancient Greeks consulted their oracle at Delphi for guidance before moving into battle. Indeed, in preparing for the historic battle at Salamis in 480 BC that pitted the Greek coalition against the might of Xerxes' fearsome Persian army it took the persuasive and cunning “vision” of the Athenian strategoi (general) Themistocles, commander of the Greek allied navy, to provide an interpretation of the oracle that ultimately encouraged the Greeks to stay and fight in the face of almost certain defeat against the Persian army. Some had interpreted the oracle's sign to predict defeat. Themistocles skillfully and convincingly interpreted the oracle's omen to mean victory. Little, of course, could he or his Greek compatriots have appreciated the historical significance of their great victory in that battle.1
Many managers today still seek out their “oracles” when faced with strategic decision making. The modern manager's oracle often takes on the form of endless reams of essentially meaningless data generated by management information systems. Many managers find solace in numbers, just as the early Greeks did in the Delphian oracle's signs.
Strategy need not be enigmatic. It need not be a mystical codex with seven seals. Good strategy is ...