Company’s strategy: some theory and a short test

In business terms, strategy is defined as "the determination of the basic long-term goals of an enterprise, and the adoption of courses of action and the allocation of resources necessary for carrying out these goals."[1]


The concept of corporate strategy emerged in business schools, such as Harvard Business Schools, from the 1960s, with the creation of a business policy course[2]. This course treated corporate strategy as the company's mission, its distinctive competence, reflecting the values of its managers.


Later in the 1960s, Bruce Henderson founded the first strategy consulting firm, the Boston Consulting Group. Among other things, he is the founder to the growth-share matrix, a portfolio management framework that helps companies decide how to prioritize their different businesses[3].


In the 1980s, defining the company's strategy by "adapting a company to its environment", Michael Porter, an American academic known for his theories on economics, business strategy, and social causes, developed a framework to help companies review their competitive situation. Porter defined strategy as “in the face of competition, a combination of the objectives that the firm strives to achieve and the means by which it seeks to achieve them.[4]"


Michael Porter identified three principles underlying a strategy: [5]


  • creating a "unique and valuable [market] position"
  • making trade-offs by choosing "what not to do"
  • creating "fit" by aligning company activities with one another to support the chosen strategy


Four components are often mentioned as key to elaborate a corporate strategy [6]


  1. visioning
  2. objective setting
  3. resource allocation
  4. prioritization of strategic tradeoffs


According to Michael Porter, it is possible to distinguish the following generic strategies at the level of each of the strategic business areas:


  • Strategies of cost domination
  • Differentiation strategies
  • The focus strategy: focusing on a niche market


Today, a SWOT analysis remains undoubtedly one of the best known and most used tools to help a company make strategic decisions.


That’s enough for the theory.


It can be very useful to ask yourself a few simple questions about your own entrepreneurial strategy. If your answers are negative to most of the questions in this short test, it's probably a good idea to ask advice from a specialist.


  1. Can you define your business strategy in simple and concrete way?
  2. Can you list the strategic axes taken at the level of each of your strategic business areas?
  3. Does your "pre-covid" strategy still seem adequate to you today?
  4. Do you feel that your stakeholders understand and adhere to your business strategy?
  5. Do you feel that your employees understand and adhere to your business strategy?
  6. Does your organization's corporate responsibility strategy match the availability of your current resources?
  7. Have you recently completed a SWOT-analysis of your company?


Hiring temporary external resources as Interim Managers can be very useful to help you review your business strategy and redefine the strategic axes of your business areas.



[1] Chandler, Alfred Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the history of industrial enterprise, Doubleday, New York, 1962.

[2] https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=190

[3] https://www.bcg.com/en-be/about/our-history/growth-share-matrix

[4] Porter, M.E. (1980) Competitive Strategy, Free Press, New York, 1980.

[5] Porter, Michael E. (1996). "What is Strategy?". Harvard Business Review (November–December 1996).

[6] https://www.ottawa.edu/online-and-evening/blog/november-2020/four-key-components-of-corporate-strategy

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