April 2018
10 minutes

These are the 30 best strategy quotes

These are the 30 best strategy quotes (Picture: Jacob Lund/shutterstock.com)

When it comes to strategy work, which requires not only a lot of creativity and flexibility, but also tons of persistence and persuasiveness, inspiring quotes may help to not lose sight of what really matters when struggling with stressful day-to-day work.

Here is a list of our favorite strategy quotes—old and new classics by renowned strategy experts, entrepreneurs, politicians, military strategists, writers, and athletes. Let yourself be inspired!

  1. "The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do." — Michael E. Porter, American  economist and founder of strategic management
  2. "In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell." — Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric
  3. "The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time." — Henry Ford
  4. "The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed." — Willian Gibson, American science fiction author
  5. "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results." — Sir Winston Churchill
  6. "Strategy is not the consequence of planning, but the opposite: its starting point." — Henry Mintzberg, management thinker and “enfant terrible” of strategic planning theory
  7. "The real challenge in crafting strategy lies in detecting subtle discontinuities that may undermine a business in the future. And for that there is no technique, no program, just a sharp mind in touch with the situation." — and again Henry Mintzberg
  8. "Winning should be at the heart of every strategy." — A.G. Lafley & Roger L. Martin in their book Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works.
  9. "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." — Peter Drucker, American economist and pioneer of modern management theory
  10. "Transient advantage is the new normal." — Rita Gunther McGrath, Professor at Columbia Business School, Rita Gunther McGrath, Professor at Columbia Business School, criticizing Michael Porter’s old postulate of long-term competitive advantage as no longer being valid or useful in today’s hyper-competitive business environment.
  11. "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." — Benjamin Franklin
  12. "If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else." — Yogi Berra, American baseball player
  13. "If you're competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering." — Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO of Amazon
  14. "Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment." — Jim Collins & Jerry Porras in their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
  15. "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win." — Sun Tzu, Chinese philosopher and military strategist
  16. "Today, no leader can afford to be indifferent to the challenge of engaging employees in the work of creating the future. Engagement may have been optional in the past, but it's pretty much the whole game today." — Gary Hamel, American economist and business consultant. Together with C. K. Prahalad he is considered the founder of the core competency concept.
  17. “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French writer and pilot
  18. "Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago." — Warren Buffett, American business magnate, investor and philanthropist
  19. "Strategy execution isn’t something other people should worry about while you are doing something far more important." — Jeroen de Flander, Dutch expert on strategy implementation
  20. "Business opportunities are like buses, there's always another one coming." — Richard Branson, British business magnate, investor, and philanthropist
  21. "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all." — Peter Drucker
  22. "Strategy is the economy of forces." — Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz, Prussian general, military theorist, and writer
  23. "The reason why it is so difficult for existing firms to capitalize on disruptive innovations is that their processes and their business model that make them good at the existing business actually make them bad at competing for the disruption." — Clayton Christensen, American economist best known for coining the term disruptive innovation.
  24. "An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage." — Jack Welch
  25. "Strategy is buying a bottle of fine wine when you take a lady out for dinner. Tactics is getting her to drink it." — Frank Muir, British actor and comedy writer
  26. "A higher rate of urgency does not imply ever-present panic, anxiety, or fear. It means a state in which complacency is virtually absent." — John P. Kotter, world renowned expert on change management. Complacency is considered one of the biggest strategy traps established big corporations can fall into.
  27. "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." — Napoléon Bonaparte
  28. "Sticking with a plan when you are winning sounds simple, but it's easy to become overconfident and get caught up in events. Long-term success is impossible if you let your heat-of-the-moment reactions trump careful planning." — Garri Kimowitsch Kasparow, Russian chess player and politician
  29. "The biggest risk is not taking any risk... In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks." — Mark Zuckerberg, Founder & CEO of Facebook
  30. "A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more." — Rosabeth Moss Kanter, American sociologist and Professor at Harvard Business School
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