I learned the benefit of duplicability from my experience as an IT director for two multilevel marketing companies. The name of the game there is to create a system that motivates people and that can be easily duplicated by every-day people. This concept is further enhanced from a study of systems theory, complexity, and fractals. In these areas very simple patterns can produce incredibly complicated and beautiful results.
An additional source of inspiration is the field of neuroscience and other disciplines that explain how the brain works. Brains are essentially pattern recognition engines. We recognize patterns sometimes even where they do not exist, e.g. faces on Mars. This recognition of a pattern where none exists is a false positive result known as patternicity and is discussed in great detail by Michael Shermer in his book “The Believing Brain.”
We also proactively create patterns such as action plans which are simply a pattern of actions to be taken. Babies through trial, error, and biofeedback learn to connect desire with specific motor responses of their arms legs hands and feet. They first learn that crying leads to food and eventually the more abstract concept that language leads to food. Once these patterns are formed they are often relied on for the entire life of that individual without any revision. Examples of this are regularly seen in fully grown adults who seem to melt down and act like children as a result of some seemingly random triggering mechanism.
One of the keys to being a strategist is to actively evaluate and improve these patterns of behavior that play out in our every-day lives. The strategist takes responsibility, not only for their premeditated actions, but also for actions resulting from preformed patterns. The more we learn about how the brain operates the more we realize that much of what we do on a daily basis is a result of default programming or patterns that formed in our early years that may not be optimized for an adult, success-oriented life.
I also have significant military, political, and business experience that influences my thinking.
Anyway, I have come to believe that strategy is the natural ability of living things to connect desire with action to produce success. The only real difference between us and the octopus that unscrews a jar to get at a meal is our ability to deal with the abstract and to delay gratification. Or in other words to abstract strategy from action without loosing the connection to success.
That is why my definitions are not business centric. I work with IT management frameworks and standards in my day job and am attempting to define a framework for strategy that will provide a more fundamental way to understand strategy below the level of business, war, or politics but that serves to provide more structure at those (practitioner specific) levels. For some reason this has become a passion for me. I know there is a pattern there, if only I can figure out how to see it clearly. 🙂
Patton, as a general and colonel, was a great tactician in that he developed novel ways to use tanks and mechanized infantry together to produce specific results prior to WWII. As a commander in WWII he leveraged those tactics to spectacular effect as did many other generals.
One last thing: I see problems as the inverse or the negative statement of a goal. In that way saying that strategy is about achieving goals or solving problems is simply two approaches to saying the same thing.