1. Strategy is about achieving the best future, not just the most obvious or an extrapolation of the past.
2. It has to be achievable
3. There needs to be a clear and logical route to achieve it (the plan we mentioned earlier)
4. Finally, it needs to be communicated to the organisation for it to become reality (not part of the formal definition, but I think we all agree that a strategy is of no value if no-one knows about it)
We should of course remind ourselves of the real point of strategy, which is to help us achieve higher goals, more profit, bigger market share or whatever the measure of success happens to be. What strategy does therefore, is allow the whole organization to understand what their goals are, and more specifically, what their role would be in achieving them. I would like to also emphasise the two very clear components of strategy. There is the end goal and there is the path to achieve it. There are many routes to achieve any end goal, so it is important that everyone knows which path has been chosen. This means that everyone is working on the same activities, rather than being spread across different paths.
I use the term 'end goal' deliberately. We often hear the word 'vision' in the context of strategy. So, just to be clear, vision is normally a high level, sometimes emotive, and usually broad (i.e. vague) end goal. It is a very important aspect in guiding any organization. However, to identify a proper end goal, the vision needs to be combined with some quantified objectives.
A short footnote before we continue. This book focuses on creating an IT strategy to support the high level business goals. We talk about non-IT departments as 'the business.' Although IT is clearly part of 'the business,' I think the term is so widely used as not to be worth changing, and I use it in this same context here.