Copyright 2004 Lars Holmdahl
Product Development
Decision Making
Book Reviews
Copyright 2004 Lars Holmdahl
What is the aim or purpose of strategy? To improve our ability to shape and adapt to unfolding circumstances, so that we (as individuals or as groups or as a culture or as a nation-state) can survive on our own terms.
-John R. Boyd
The citation of USAF Col. John R Boyd, Korea veteran, creator of F15 and F16, and teacher at US Marines War College defines strategy. Boyd created his theory of strategy after having studied 2500 years of human conflicts.

The Boyd theory is applicable not only to military conflicts, but to all human conflicts, and that make the theory useable to us who lead teams and develop new products.

Strategy can be divided into separate levels, or strata. Edward Luttwak (one of the 20th Century giants) gives five strata with increasing complexity: 1/ Technology, 2/ Tactics, 3/ Operations, 4/ Theater of war operations, and 5/ Grand strategy.

The highest level is purely political and therefore strategy theory helps us understand international politics. It is not difficult to transform this to a company doing business on the competitive international arena.

The study of strategy has always been considered important. As early as 400 BC Sun Tzu wrote, "it is a question of life and death" (for a nation) in his famous book Art of War. Sun Tzu was a brilliant strategist who fought 28 battles with 27 wins and one undecided. If we to enemies add environmental pollution, extinction of species, etc, then the importance of strategy is larger than ever before.

One of the greatest sword fighters of all time, Miyamoto Musashi wrote in his Go Rin No Sho, book of five rings, about the significance of time and rhythm in strategy. Musashi´s book has been a guiding star to Japanese industrial leaders.

Best known to the general public of all strategists is probably Carl von Clausewitz who was a 'Genearlstabsoffizier' in Prussia. His magnum opus, Vom Kriege, was posthumously published in 1832.

Clausewitz was well versed in the science of his time and tried to formulate a more scientific view of strategy. Clausewitz stressed the importance of uncertainty and friction, that is to say all small mischief and problems that accumulates and may trip the whole operation.

During the very last years new knowledge and understanding regarding: complexity theory, naturalistic decision-making, teams, intuition, ecology, and computer simulations of different strategies (e.g. Axelrod: Prisoners dilemma) have shed new light and increased interest for strategy and strategists.

Sun Tzu
(vision, leadership, ethics, harmonious interaction) - modern management and psychology.
(time, rhythm) - dynamics.
(uncertainty, friction) - chaos- and complexity theory.
(maneuver thinking, agility) - naturalistic decision-making, intuition, complexity theory.

Strategy theory, based on centuries of human experience and enhanced by new science can be directly used in day-to-day industrial activities.
Strategy forms the basis for successful product development and healthy business.



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