I was fed in the 1980s on a diet heavy in strategy. It was the heyday of GE’s Reginald Jones, who had introduced something called strategic planning into one of America’s great companies--and would later introduce a successor by the name of Jack Welch. And just up the coast, the Boston Consulting Group was organizing the world into growth-share matrices.
When I graduated from business school I believed it was a mortal sin to run a company without a strategic plan: Envision an End State 3-5 years out. Decide where you wanted to compete. Decide how you wanted to compete. Write it all down, carve it all up, and make it all so.
This was how the world ran, or ought to run. Leading a business without a strategic plan was like driving blindfolded on the interstate.
I have since learned that the way we wish the world to work and the way it actually works are two entirely different things. I would guess, in fact, that far more businesses lack strategic plans than have them. Some have plans that aren't strategic. Others have plans but don’t read them. Some that read them don’t follow them. Some that follow them execute so badly that the plan might as well not exist.
In other words, the world I was taught to create--and expect--might represent the smallest share of all global business activity.