Managers can measure themselves with a ten-question profile—based on a Prussian general’s strategic thinking.

Bạn đang xem: The strategist

Managers can measure themselves with a ten-question profile—based on a Prussian general’s strategic thinking.


Managers can measure themselves with a ten-question profile—based on a Prussian general’s strategic thinking.


Perhaps the greatest strategist of all time was not a business executive or an entrepreneur but a general. Helmuth von Moltke, chief of the Prussian và German general staffs from 1858 khổng lồ 1888, engineered the strategy behind the military victories that allowed Otto von Bismarck to assemble a loose league of German states into a powerful empire. A prolific writer and acute thinker, Moltke possessed two important characteristics that made him a superior strategist:

The ability to understand the significance of events without being influenced by current opinion, changing attitudes, or his own prejudices. The ability khổng lồ make decisions quickly & to take the indicated kích hoạt without being deterred by a perceived danger.

The two characteristics tư vấn each other—and apply to managers và entrepreneurs as much as generals và national leaders. For example, General Electric’s CEO Jack Welch has said, “Strategy follows people; the right person leads khổng lồ the right strategy.” But what makes a strategist out of a manager? How does a CEO gauge the strategic capabilities of managers rising in the organization? How can managers consciously work on themselves to develop their own strategic abilities?

There is no test that can precisely evaluate an individual’s strategic management competence. But there are key questions whose answers can indicate the màn chơi of that competence. Managers who answer these questions in the khung of a self-administered test can draw practical conclusions about their strategic abilities. Such a questionnaire makes the process of selecting good managers more objective, clear, & simple. At the same time, this method can provide individual managers with an instrument for developing their own management personalities.

Strategy Can’t Be Taught

Helmuth von Moltke’s superior strategies won the Austrian-Prussian War in 1866 và the French-Prussian War in 1871. A man of action, Moltke was also humane and cultured—and very reserved. One colleague said he could be “silent in seven languages.” Instead of giving specific orders, Moltke issued “directives”—guidelines for autonomous decision making. In the past, Prussian officers were discouraged from acting on their own; military commanders controlled most actions from the top. But Moltke turned such tradition on its head by expecting his officers lớn show individual initiative.

According to Moltke, strategy is applied common sense và cannot be taught. Moltke’s general conception of strategy—viewing all obvious factors in the right perspective—cannot be learned in any school because every school essentially aims at mediocrity. Just as the monastery schools of the Middle Ages produced merely average monks và never saints, present-day business schools rarely turn out the equivalent of a Moltke or a Bismarck.

The actual educational purpose of any school is lớn achieve the highest possible average level; students learn và share values based on a common culture, which enables them khổng lồ build on their own natural capabilities. The best a business school can vày is lớn offer prospective managers ways khổng lồ develop themselves—and refrain from creating obstacles or leading students down false paths. Differences in real life result much less from knowledge learned than from the individual’s essential character. Ultimately, the ability to lớn strategize is linked with the personality of successful entrepreneurs & managers.

So, what does it actually take to lớn be a strategist? What factors determine the cấp độ of strategic management competence? Our questionnaire summarizes the criteria we use to lớn identify good strategists. When entrepreneurs and managers take this test, they ask themselves or others ten questions. The answers then yield a profile that indicates an individual’s ability khổng lồ strategize.

Question 1: “Do I Have an Entrepreneurial Vision?”

The two Steves—Jobs và Wozniak, founders of táo khuyết Computer—envisioned the “democratization of the computer.” Gottlieb Duttweiler started Migros Cooperative, now the largest Swiss supermarket chain, in 1925 with five Ford Model-T trucks loaded with sugar, coffee, rice, macaroni, shortening, và soap—and a vision of scrapping traditional distribution structures to help society’s poorer classes. Enrico Mattei, founder of ENI (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi), the Italian state-owned petroleum company, envisioned making Italy relatively self-sufficient in oil and natural gas. The president of a Swiss technological institute wanted to create conditions that would enable a thành viên of his faculty lớn win the Nobel Prize. And Stephen Davison Bechtel, founder of the biggest construction company in the world, regarded the entire planet as a construction site and always stuck to his guiding principle: “We’ll build anything, anywhere, any time.”

As these & countless other examples demonstrate, there is always a vision at the beginning of any entrepreneurial activity, any major company restructuring program, any new phase in a person’s life. Such visions are guides comparable khổng lồ the North Star. The leader of a caravan in the desert, where sandstorms constantly change the landscape, looks khổng lồ the patterns of the stars in the sky to lớn stay on course. The stars are not the destination, but they vị provide dependable guides for the journey to the next oasis, no matter which direction the caravan comes from, how well it is equipped for the trip, or how rough the terrain may be. Of course, the stars may point the way, but any Bedouin who hopes to reach the oasis safely knows khổng lồ keep one eye on the ground lớn avoid quicksand—and khổng lồ trust his caravan leader’s sense of orientation.

Like the North Star, a manager’s vision is not a goal. Rather, it is an orientation point that guides a company’s movement in a specific direction. If the vision is realistic & appeals both to the emotions and the intelligence of employees, it can integrate và direct a company. Every entrepreneur who claims to possess strategic management competence should be able to state his or her vision clearly, in just a few sentences.

Of course, a vision may be more or less important lớn different companies & managers. A successful company intent upon steering its present course may need the ability khổng lồ focus more than the ability khổng lồ create a vision.

Question 2: “Do I Have a Corporate Philosophy?”

When a vision is put into concrete terms, it becomes a corporate philosophy: the ideological creed of both entrepreneurs and their đứng top managers. A good corporate philosophy is like a good battle cry—and, as George Bernard Shaw pointed out, a good battle cry is half the battle. Frank Stronach, the entrepreneur who founded Magna International, an automobile parts company headquartered in Markham, Ontario in Canada, bases his vision on the idea of a “fair economy.” The main principles of his corporate philosophy are:

10% of profit before taxes goes lớn employees—3% as cash bonuses và 7% as shares. 6% of profit before taxes goes to management as cash bonuses.

2% of profit before taxes goes to charities, political institutions, and educational and cultural organizations. 7% of profit before taxes is spent for research and development. 20% of profit after taxes is paid out as dividends to lớn shareholders. The rest is reinvested.

According to Stronach’s corporate philosophy, the đứng top management team at Magna also must be “reformed” if these managers cannot generate profits over any given three-year period.

Xem thêm: Phân Tích Bài Thơ Quê Hương Đỗ Trung Quân ❤️️ Lời Bài Thơ, Phân Tích, Văn Mẫu

A family-owned company in Austria follows a different mix of guiding principles. The company should grow, but no faster than it can finance growth with internal resources. Decisions of the advisory board become binding only if they are unanimous. Family members are not allowed khổng lồ engage in private business activity. The company enters into no cooperation agreements with other companies. But at Olivetti, CEO Carlo De Benedetti has taken a completely different tack: his corporate philosophy emphasizes cooperation agreements, joint ventures, alliances, và the incorporation of his companies in strategic networks.

The corporate philosophy of a company is like the worldview of an individual—that combination of the most essential elements in a person’s character. Of course, it is important for a landlady sizing up a potential lodger lớn know something about his income; but it is also important for her to judge his character and basic ideology. Similarly, an entrepreneur locked in cutthroat competition with a competitor should learn something about the competitor’s products and resources; however, it is even more important for the entrepreneur to lớn know the opponent’s corporate philosophy.