Strategy Series: Interview with Philippe Very

From January 2017, the EDHEC "Management & Strategy" faculty will be producing monthly short-form written or video content defending strong positions related to political or business strategy. Our editorial team met with Philippe Very, Head of the “Management and Strategy” faculty and Professor of Strategy. He outlined the “Strategy Series” and shared his expertise.

Philippe, could you start by giving us a definition of “strategy”? Could you remind us of the fields in which it is useful?
Classically, the definition of strategy revolves around the determination of a company’s long-term objectives and the allocation of resources necessary for carrying out these objectives. The concept was first developed in the military field, for instance in ancient Greece. Nowadays it is used by many types of organisations: private and state-owned companies, political parties, NGOs, governments, etc. Even you and I can devise an individual strategy. Within organisations, defining orientations for the future gives sense to managers’ actions at all levels. Strategy also helps external stakeholders understand the organisation’s mission and evaluate its capacity to create value.

What is the story behind the “Strategy series”? What objectives are being sought?
The classical definition of strategy needs to be discussed today, particularly in the context of the business world. Technological disruption, political instability in many countries, or wishes for a new “post-global” economy generate more volatility and uncertainty about the future. Anticipation can become tougher in some industries, and strategic planning may be inefficient for giving sense to action. Most strategists use tools and processes that were developed 20 years ago or even earlier. But for instance the well-known strategy process [analysis – decision making – implementation] is currently at stake because action becomes necessary to make decisions. Accordingly, it is time to rethink how organisations can efficiently choose the road they want to take over forthcoming years. Strategy lies at the crossroads of a paradox. Organisations need to show the direction they want to go, but their environment is shrouded in fog.

Strategy professors at EDHEC Business School want to switch on the headlights. Thanks to their research and their relationships with top company executives, they have developed new ideas about the practice of strategy and the responses that can address issues relating to company development in an unforeseeable future. This is why we are launching these Strategy Series. We have decided to share these ideas with our communities and hope to enrich them through subsequent interactions.

What topics will be addressed and how frequently will this content be delivered?
All the topics deal with the fact that we need to change our practice of strategy. Publications concern topics such as: how to formulate a strategy, how to react to disruption, how to identify and seize opportunities, how to extract value from social networks, how to develop a political strategy, how to teach strategy…

The first two publications highlight some of our reflections. Professor George Tovstiga explains [read] that we live in a “new-normal” economic environment and that companies should strategise according to these new rules of the game. Then, Professor Karin Kollenz states [read] that incumbents in an industry can live with digital disruption, an event generally perceived as a threat.

Find out more about "Strategy Series":

- Competing to win, by George Tovstiga
- Learning to live with disruption, by Karen Kollenz

New content will be published each month.

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