After more than 30 years of hard thinking about strategy, consultants and scholars have provided an abundance of frameworks for analyzing strategic situations. Missing, however, has been any guidance as to what the product of these tools should be - or what actually constitutes a strategy. Strategy has become a catchall term used to mean whatever one wants it to mean. Executives now talk about their "service strategy," their "branding strategy," their "acquisition strategy," or whatever kind of strategy that is on their mind at a particular moment. But strategists-whether they are CEOs of established firms, division presidents, or entrepreneurs - must have a strategy, an integrated, overarching concept of how the business will achieve its objectives. If a business must have a single, unified strategy, then it must necessarily have parts. What are those parts? We present a framework for strategy design, arguing that a strategy has five elements, providing answers to five questions - arenas: where will we be active? vehicles: how will we get there? differentiators: how will we win in the marketplace? staging: what will be our speed and sequence of moves? economic logic: how will we obtain our returns? Our article develops and illustrates these domains of choice, particularly emphasizing how essential it is that they form a unified whole.
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