Drucker wrote that the purpose of strategy is to enable an organization to achieve its desired results in an unpredictable environment. Contrary to what “everybody knows,” strategy is not about achieving results in a known and foreseeable environment, but in an environment that is unknown and unforeseeable. That’s why politicians, military leaders, as well as business executives frequently, err as their well-laid out strategies and plans fall flat. The military especially is frequently criticized as wanting to fight the next war with the last war’s weapons, concepts, and strategy. The most egregious example usually cited is that of the French Maginot Line of concrete bunkers built on the border between France and Germany in the run up to World War II. The Maginot Line cost billions of dollars, emulated the trench warfare of World War I, and was intended to be an indestructible and impassable “super trench.” The Germans simply rendered it useless by going around it.
Unfortunately, we have learned little. Many managers today assume that the environment tomorrow will be pretty much the same as today—just extrapolated forward for increasing population, increasing longevity, or whatever else might be the trend of the day. That’s a guaranteed recipe for failure, and you can look at many organizations and recognize this common lack of forsight.Becoming Purposefully Opportunistic
Drucker said what strategists should do is to be become “purposefully opportunistic.” That is you look through the window and see what events that have already occurred mean for the future. Then, your plans are based not on what is unknown and unforeseeable, but what is known and is foreseeable. You see the opportunity before others and develop a strategy to take advantage of coming events which are inevitable.