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Strategy as Strategic Decision Making

In high-velocity, intensely competitive markets, traditional approaches to strategy give way to "competing on the edge" -- creating a flow of temporary, shifting competitive advantages. The author's research on entrepreneurial and diversified businesses demonstrates that successful firms in these markets have fast, high-quality, and widely supported strategic decision-making processes. These firms use four approaches to create strategy:

1. Management teams build collective intuition through frequent meetings and real-time metrics that enhance their ability to see threats and opportunities early and accurately. Less successful teams rarely meet with their colleagues in a group and make fewer and larger strategic choices, relying on market analyses and future trend projections that are idiosyncratic to the decision.

2. Executives stimulate conflict by assembling diverse teams, challenging them through frame-breaking tactics, such as scenario planning and role playing, and stressing multiple alternatives to improve the quality of decision making. Less successful performers move quickly to a few alternatives, analyze the best ones, and make a speedy decision.

3. Effective decision makers focus on maintaining decision pace, not pushing decision speed. They sustain momentum through the methods of time pacing, prototyping, and consensus with qualification. Ineffective decision makers stress the rarity and significance of strategic choices. Because the decision then looms large, they oscillate between procrastination and "shotgun" strategic choices against deadlines.

4. Managers on successful teams take a negative view of politicking. Their perspective is collaborative, not competitive. These teams emphasize common goals, clear turf, and having fun. Less effective decision makers have a competitive orientation and lack a sense of teamwork.

Together, these approaches direct executive attention toward strategic decision making as the cornerstone of effective strategy.

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