Strategy is often used as an umbrella term – a term that through familiarity and use in multiple contexts means different things to different people. Moreover, strategy has morphed over the decades, with research and application in diverse contexts. It is important, therefore, that we get to a common understanding of what strategy is, and what it is not.


Humans have two ways of getting to a destination – navigating or wayfaring. When you follow a map, whether on paper or through your device, you are navigating from A to B. In the span of human history and evolution, this is a relatively new way of finding our way, where we rely on external knowledge almost to the exclusion of our own thinking and perception.

Image depicting wayfaring which is symbolized through an abstract movement in which action and perception are intimately coupled. Generated with Gemini.

Wayfaring, the dictionary will tell you, is when you travel on foot. But it is more than that. In his book, Being Alive, Tim Ingold, an anthropologist at the University of Aberdeen, calls wayfaring “our most fundamental way of being in the world.” Immersed in the landscape, attuned to its textures and features, the wayfarer enjoys “an experience of movement in which action and perception are intimately coupled.” Wayfaring becomes “an ongoing process of growth and development, or self-renewal.

When you navigate, you are moved, like a passenger in your own body. But when you are a wayfarer, you are moving, with awareness, deliberation, and intention.

In yesterday’s world, navigation was the most efficient way to get from A to B. Just like you would have a map in a physical journey, a plan was the most effective way to navigate through life. But in today’s world, with an everchanging landscape replete with pitfalls and goldmines at every corner, a plan is insufficient. Strategy is the wayfarer’s toolkit. In an unexplored or changing terrain, it is what gets you from where you are to where you want to get to.

Many tools need to come together in a good strategy, but none of these tools are a strategy by themselves. Strategy is not a vision or a dream for one’s life. It is not a personal mission, or a passion that you follow. Neither is it your habits nor the routine that you follow every day, though a plan that you execute may well be the outcome of a good strategic process. Strategy is not an elevator pitch, or your brand or how you communicate with the world.

Strategy starts with the articulation of a goal and ends with the achievement of that goal. A good strategy validates your goal, focuses it, increases your odds of success, builds in risk buffers in case of unexpected events, identifies and gathers the resources you need, sets up the system and environment needed for you to succeed, and keeps you on track while you go about the work of achieving the goal. It is a process and a product, it contains a plan, and a series of tactical ploys. Most of all, it is a coherent companion that you can rely on, for the duration that you need to achieve your goal, however long that might be.