Strategy is important. It has to be. That’s why both Harvard Business Review and Foreign Policy obsess over it, right? Talk of “strategy” fills the halls of foreign policy think tanks and it’s a central product offering for consultancies. “Strategy” has even trickled all the way down to undergraduate courses. With America’s obsession with strategy, one would think the America is going through a strategy renaissance. But what if we really have a strategy deficit?
Evidence Supporting a Strategy Deficit
- Senator Tim Kaine argues in Foreign Affairs that after the fall of the USSR the U.S. evaluates its foreign policy options on a case by case basis.
- Marketers treat SEO as a marketing strategy.
- Companies are giving up on brands. In their most simple form, brands are what separate one company from another in the eyes of consumers.
- Economist Tyler Cowen writes in The Complacent Class that U.S. lawmakers are running out of options for their strategy. Over time, entitlements will take up a larger and larger share of the federal budget unless action is taken to slow their growth. The increase in entitlement spending on its own is not necessarily a bad thing. However, the fact that it leaves lawmakers with fewer options to be creative is troubling. For example, we can’t choose whether we prioritize education or defense spending because there won’t be a lot of money to commit to either area.
Evidence Against a Strategy Deficit
- History creates strategy. In his memoir, The Courage to Act, former Federal Reserve Chairmen Ben Bernanke tells how his study of financial panics and depressions informed his monetary policy strategy during the most recent financial crisis. Over time, more historical data will aid policymakers and business leaders in formulating smarter strategy. The fed, for example, is now very transparent in its strategy. The Board of Governors not only announces what they will do, but also how their actions may change if certain key economic indicators change.
- Human stock traders are being replaced by algorithms. Alrorithism trade based on a strategy. Humans think they do.
- Board games are making a comeback, thanks to crowdfunding and a desire to reduce screen time. While this seems like a trivial point, board games give average Americans a way to think deeply about strategy on a regular basis. Or maybe I’ve just underestimated the amount of game theory involved in American dating markets. Highly likely.