February 14, 2006

Strategy = Academic Masturbation

In a BSchool there are 'basic' courses (those that are supposed to give you some vague idea of the choas that goes on inside an organisation) and then there are 'Strategy' courses. These courses are pure academic masturbation. (Credit: Rugved Dhumale for the term) You shag your mind and feel happy about it. Probably one of the most oft used words in the corporate world and disliked by students purely because it promises so much when you first hear about it, and disapoints badly when you go about the subject.

Basically anything that you do can be labelled as strategy. Here are some exmaples:

You fire 1/3rd your workforce. That's a strategy to rationalise your manpower and hence raionalise your cost.

You introduce a new product. That's a defensive or offensive strategy with your competitor depending on whether he's on your ass or you on his.

You upgrade your IT system. Thats another strategy to provide value to your business.

You overprice and do some branding or bunkum like it. Another of those 'value providing' bullshit strategies. (My personal opinion is that this 'value' thingie was thought of by some frustrated MBA who had deadlines to meet and to save his performance based variable component part of his salary came up with this five letter word which means nothing but shouts into your eardrums)

You redeisgn your logo. Another marketing strategy. (Other than making the logo creator feel good about himself, I don't think consumers / customers give two hoots about the look of the logo.

I could go on... the point I'm trying to make is this. We MBA's believe all the stuff that's being told to us. We blindly agree that two random events that take place actually have a causal relationship between them. I'm not trying to deride Strategy here. I'm not trying to say that firms have no strategy. What I am against is the blatant use of the word 'Strategy' to justify and explain everything.

Strategy boils down to one thing. Foresight. Can you visualise what's gonna happen tomorrow. If you can, great! Next step is can you foresee whether your business can sustain itself tomorrow. You can, even better!! Now can you foresee what alternatives you have, what resources you have, what permutations and combinations you can carry out with your resources and grow your business. If you can, you are probably in an elite class. Very few people in this world actually can do that. That's strategy. Or rather in simpler terms 'foresight'

Unfortunately, I'm not learning that in my strategy course. All I do is study the past. I analyse cases without knowing the context. And I have a professor who has no clue what he's talking about. He has standard replies to questions that perplex him, 'I'll get back to you in a moment' before he heads off to another raised hand. Needless to say, that moment never comes. Another brilliant manouvering line he uses is 'They (the case under discussion) did something very interesting' (Time something interesting happened here). Of late he's been outsourcing his work to another johnny who is even more clueless. I have never met a more jobless person than this guy who sends mails on 'Excellence in submissions'. This is what Guru Bhobe feels about this nut.

But no I'm an MBA. It's my prerogative to use fancy terms, do fancy (supposedly) work, expect fancy salaries, blah. And I'm gonna make the world feel I know more than they all collectively know. Just coz I got three seemingly 'strategic' letters appended to my name. And no ones wiser!

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