What does the word strategy mean, and how important is it to the organization or governance of anything — be it the life of an individual, a club, a civic, social or political organization; or even a church or other religious bodies — or any other organization?
We are sure our many readers understand why the Daily Observer is today dealing with this critically important theme — strategy. The reason is, we have been rudely awakened to it by President George Weah’s Press Secretary, Sam Mannah, who proclaimed, and was reported in yesterday’s front page story, “[President] Weah Needs No Strategy to Govern.”
It is our fervent hope and prayer that Presidential Press Secretary Mannah has already painfully regretted having made such a remark, because it will go down in history as one of the worst misstatements any public official can ever make.
Now let us examine what the word strategy means. It stems from the Greek word stratēgia, which means the “art of troop leader; office of general, command, generalship. It is a high-level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty . . .”
Now if even a Boy Scout troop needs a strategy to operate, how much more a whole nation of over four million people? The Internet tells us that Michael E. Potter, author of the bestselling book, Competitive Strategy, now in its sixtieth printing, says “strategy is important because the resources available to achieve strategic goals of any kind are usually limited.”
Those of us in business should know and understand that a business strategy is a set of guiding principles that, when communicated and adopted in the organization, generates a desired pattern of decision making. A strategy is therefore about how people throughout the organization should make decisions and allocate resources in order to accomplish key objectives.
A good strategy provides a clear roadmap, consisting of a set of guiding principles or rules that defines the actions people in the business should take (and not take) and the things they should prioritize (and not prioritize) to achieve desired goals. As such, a strategy, according to Potter, is just one element of the overall strategic direction that leaders must define for their organizations.
A strategy, he says, is not a mission, which is what the organization’s leaders want it to accomplish; missions get elaborated into specific goals and performance metrics. A strategy also is not the value network — the web of relationships with suppliers, customers, employees, and investors within which the business co-creates and captures economic value.
Finally, a strategy is not a vision, which is an inspiring portrait of what it will look and feel like to pursue and achieve the organization’s mission and goals. Visioning is part (along with incentives) of what leaders do to motivate people in the organization to engage in above average effort.
In a nutshell, says Potter, mission is about what will be achieved; the value network is about with whom value will be created and captured; strategy is about how resources should be allocated to accomplish the mission in the context of the value network; and vision and incentives is about why people in the organization should feel motivated to perform at a high level.
Together, says Potter, the mission, network, strategy, and vision define the strategic direction for a business. They provide the what, who, how, and why necessary to powerfully align action in complex organizations. Now let us see how the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines strategy.
“Strategy is the science and art of employing the political, economic, psychological and military forces of a nation or group of nations to afford the maximum support to adopt policies in peace or war.”
What we think Presidential Press Secretary Mannah forgot is that his boss and our President, George Manneh Weah, knows all about strategy.
He developed and began implementing his strategic vision for his life right there in the street football pitches of Clara Town, Monrovia. Following that strategic vision, he found his way to one of the nation’s two leading football clubs, Invincible Eleven (IE), and on to football clubs abroad that catapulted (propelled) him to super stardom.
It is that same strategic vision that has now led him to the Liberian presidency. And where did he choose for his first official visit abroad as President of Liberia? Paris, France, because that was the country that pointed him to stardom.
Was that not strategic? It was, and French President Macron acknowledged that strategic move by giving Liberia, through its President Weah, a cool US$10 million to help jump-start the bankrupt economy he inherited.
We trust that by now the Presidential Press Secretary realizes that President Weah is far more a strategic thinker than Mannah would allow. Let Press Secretary Mannah, and all who think like him, realize and know that President Weah is indeed a strategic thinker and actor.
They should encourage the President to adopt even more strategic plans and governance, to steer Liberia with its many challenges in a positive and prosperous direction.