An Excellent Definition of Strategy

In the rush of life’s frenetic pace, I occasionally overlook moments of significance. Those fleeting times are sometimes ignored because of my inattention, or perhaps because I find it easy to overlook things that appear fairly simple.

Recently, I almost rushed past the wisdom shared by one of the most brilliant strategic thinkers I know. I had the privilege of spending an hour in the office of my friend David Westbrook, senior vice president of strategy and innovation at Children’s Mercy Hospital here in Kansas City. He was helping me to brainstorm contingency plans for a major business change looming on the horizon.

In the course of our conversation, he softly said, “You know, strategy is knowing where you are going and knowing how you’ll get there.”

He then moved, but not before I jotted down what he said. In fact, during our time together I took several pages of notes and my only frustration was that David’s mind moved faster than did my expensive fountain pen.

Several days later that simple yet profound statement kept echoing in my mind. I’ve read many books, articles and blogs about corporate strategy. I’ve attended workshops and even participated in roundtable discussions on the topic. Yet I’ve never heard strategy defined in such a simple, elegant way.

For the benefit of anyone wanting to be more strategic, allow me to repeat David’s gem of wisdom:

Strategy is knowing where you are going and knowing how you’ll get there.

Reflect on the relevance of that sentence and ask, “Do I know where I’m going? Do I know how I’ll get there?”

Tactics can wait. First, however, make sure your strategy is clear.

2 Responses to An Excellent Definition of Strategy

  1. Thanks for sharing these words from David Westbrook.

    With him as their Senior VP of Strategy & Innovation, it’s no wonder that Children’s Mercy is such a successful organization. In fact, I might quote these words of wisdom in MY next blog.

    • Duane Hallock says:

      Thank you, Mark, for your comment. David Westbrook is truly an inspiration to those of us who know him, and his influence is felt widely throughout this community and beyond.

      I see you have just used David’s quote in your blog post – I sent David the link.

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