Strategy is the first leg of the consulting triumvirate, along with marketing and organization. When you look at what's going on with a business, you look at these three and pick the one that needs attention the most. While they're all important, one will usually stand out.
The first rule of a good business strategy is that it's simple and you can do it. Many great strategies grow over time as businesses discover they have a core ability or capability that they do better than anyone else. Great examples are Southwest Airlines and Wal-mart. Southwest figured a way to fill and move its planes in and out of airports faster than anyone else, and Wal-mart grew a tremendously complex and effective logistics systems, such that they could move product from supplier to store almost 3X faster than their competition.
The very best companies in the world have the simplest strategy, spun off from a core objective based on their business model.
For example: This is how Southwest Airlines succeeded:
Southwest grew a tremendous capability
for turning planes, which involved both simplicity and dedication. They
designed their business to focus on that one thing. CAL-Lite tried to
copy them and failed because they thought the core strategy was to
charge less instead of doing something that allows
you to charge less.
Wal-mart's business model was stellar.
The key to it all was their Cross Docking System,
which, in a nutshell,
takes packages from a supplier truck to one of their Wal-mart trucks in
less than one hour. Compare that to several days for their
typical competition. The added speed of their delivery coupled with the
capability they grew in quickly match supply with demand in each of
stores made it possible for them to charge less by moving higher