How would you characterise your approach to M&A?
I have a unique background that combines experience as an international sportsman, sales and marketing in a large corporate, a strategy consultant and real life experience from planning and delivering post-merger integration from start to finish across the whole deal cycle for two decades.
I’m also a guest speaker at a number of the world’s top business schools on strategy and M&A and a Programme Director at Henley Business School for M&A. This background means I understand the theory, but combine it with a proven ability to deliver M&A integration and large transformations in highly complex organisations.
Where does strategy fit in?
M&A integration starts with the strategic planning months before a deal takes place. In fact it is the start for the deal team. What will we do with this company? How will we run it? Where can we make improvements? How will we increase our profit?
These strategic questions must be answered before we think about doing a deal. They play into the synergies and thus the valuation. It is these things that must be planned in growing detail as we move towards doing our deal.
It’s all in the planning, from strategic high level and motoring downwards towards the detail. These 100-day plans (as we call them in M&A) are the backbone of delivery of a new business, new strategic entity, the synergies and people to run the business going forward.
What’s your view on the relationship between strategy as an academic discipline and in business?
I don’t believe there is a gap, but there is a time lag in M&A and M&A strategy. As a leading professional I can come up with a great new idea tomorrow, try it out, or develop it through the delivery of a deal when I am integration director. If good, this idea may be taken up by other consultants and other companies, moving strategy and the world forward. For a top-notch academic paper to be written many companies must have implemented the idea for there to be enough data to analyse statistically.
Thus a time lag opens, between the practitioner using the new ideas and the academic researching them and delivering results. But, and it a big but, this academic research can then be used by many thousands of companies to move themselves forward, using tried and trusted (potentially proven) techniques and knowledge in the M&A field – provided by the academics. As a side shoot, each academic paper then provides areas of interest, where more research should be carried out, thus kicking-off new ideas for the practitioner to utilise. The circle, though not perfect, is completed. Both practitioners and academics are useful in their own manner, both moving forward strategy, planning and the delivery of both.
Why did you write your new book?
Most firms of a certain size will turn to M&A in their search for growth at some point, forcing almost all managers to face up to the challenge of integration. For many managers it is often their first, and only time and M&A is high on the list of things that managers hate. According to many studies, 50-75% M&A transactions turn out to be a failure. One of the main reasons for failure is late integration or bad integration management. There is a significant demand for more information on best practice in post-merger integration.
My book demonstrates how to handle the post-merger integration process and show how to restructure, consolidate, reduce costs, create efficiencies and perform M&A, from smaller transactions to mega-mergers. The focus is on integration planning and delivery. It combines a general/strategic view with detailed information of how to actually conduct a post-merger integration via practical tools and checklists that will prove essential in delivering change before, during and after transactions as well as to ensure their success.
Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, author of The Focused Organization, explains his approach and the current state of strategy in an exclusive interview with SPS. Continue Reading…
Paul de Ruijter, Director at De Ruijter Strategy, says the alternative to strategy is constant fire fighting and lagging behind the facts. The SPS will play an important role in recreating the ‘lost skill’ that strategy has become by spreading best practices, he says, supporting practitioners and helping strategic planners help themselves through communities of practice. Continue Reading…
Max McKeown, author, consultant and popular speaker in the strategy field, shares his thoughts on the importance of strategy and the relevance of his new book.
McKeown has a PhD and MBA with a speciality in strategy and strategic change. His clients sit across multiple sectors including Microsoft, Virgin, Sun International, 2012 Olympics, Toyota and TopShop. He is the author of several books including E-Customer, Why They Don’t Buy, Unshrink and The Truth about Innovation.
Why do you think strategy is important?
Strategy is about shaping the future. Great strategy is the shortest effective distance between ends and means. In the second decade of a new millennium, this seems particularly urgent because we’ve experienced what has felt like crisis after crisis, disaster after disaster, attack after attack. It’s never been more important to understand the best ways of creating a better future. Systems have failed to live up to expectations of perpetual growth and prosperity. Governments and businesses understand that there is a problem, they may even understand that they would like to solve the problem, but this is not the same as understanding how to get from where they are to where they want to be. This is the function of strategy.
We have been trying to shape our future for as long as we have been human. Along the way we’ve picked up some enduring principles about how to do that better – from the political writings of Machiavelli to the art of war espoused by Sun Tzu to the research of Ansoff, Chandler, Porter or Mintzberg. You don’t need to get an MBA or a doctorate but it’s helpful to be informed. And it’s very helpful to understand better how the creative and analytical sides of strategy work, and how they can work together to achieve exceptional results.
Why do you think a gap between strategy as an academic discipline and strategy in business has developed? What can be done to close the gap?
There are more than two camps in strategy. There is considerable research conducted into strategy that is not intended to directly inform the work of the strategist. This is not a failing of the research: social scientists shouldn’t have to justify their work based on how useful it appears to be in its raw, academic form – that’s not its purpose. And it’s not the problem either.
The problem is that there is not enough focus on improving strategy in the real world. The problem is that strategy has become divorced from leadership and entrepreneurship. Strategy has become separated from imagination and creativity. Leaders are impatient with the layers upon layers of models and flowcharts that get in the way of them actually doing strategy. They don’t want to read 1,000 page textbooks or academic journals. They don’t want out-of-date advice. They don’t want codified knowledge banks. They don’t want to work with cults that believe in the magical power of a few models. They want fast, effective, powerful help to shape their future.
What are your thoughts on the SPS professionalising strategy agenda?
My support for professionalising depends on what is meant by the term. If the focus is on practical ways of creating better strategic thinkers, that’s a good thing. If the focus is on compartmentalising the most obvious information about strategy and turning it into a set of anti-imaginative hurdles and cookie-cutter templates, then I’m against it. The language of the effective strategist is to the point. The language of the ineffective strategy consultant is flowery, grey and dull. Great strategy requires non-obvious answers to obvious questions. It’s not about nonsensical distinctions between mission, visions and goals.
There are strategy tools and processes that can help but the real heart of strategy is the strategist. It’s what you know, how you think and how you get people to care enough about what you are doing to help you get where you want to go. It’s about setting in motion a sequence of events that will shape the future in a way you like. People use strategy to get a lot of what they have. They get a job. They get an education to get a job. They save money for a holiday or a home. They used strategies to romance their partners, wives or husbands. It’s important that strategy stays powerful and effective in the real world.
How do these issues fit in with the content of your latest books?
The Strategy Book has its own competitive advantage: it’s easy to read without dumbing down its strategic ideas. It’s simple to use but is still based on a core set of intelligent strategic foundations. It offers clear explanations of tools and concepts that will help make sense of complex leadership situations. My next book, Adaptability, expands on these ideas, exploring how all success is successful adaptation.
The ideas in The Strategy Book are also based on hard-won experience and knowledge. I’ve worked with some of the most admired and most ambitious companies in the world. This real world experience is built into the book. Some of those companies are facing problems and crisis points. All of them wanted success. They wanted to move from where they were to somewhere better. The Strategy Book helps with all of those situations. It’s been designed to help people to become better strategic thinkers. And because strategic thinking is the difference between good managers and great leaders, these new skills will help any reader to shape their future deliberately – especially when faced with great external turmoil and uncertainty.
The Strategy Bookis organised into six parts. The first five tackle the really important challenges that a leader of any team of any size will face in creating strategy and making that strategy work. Each part is subdivided into specific action topics. You can dip in and out of each section as you feel relevant. The book has been written clearly so you, or your clients or students, can benefit from my experience as a strategist whether the reader is a novice or expert. The sixth part is the strategist toolkit. It contains nearly 30 hand-picked tools and models explained in very precise, practical and efficient terms.
So far it’s being used in several different ways: in business schools to supplement the standard text books; with executive teams to improve the strategy process; on leadership development programmes to raise the level of understanding and keep a shared strategy language between colleagues. It’s also being used to reinvigorate the idea of strategy as a way of winning, protecting and growing the business.
What role does strategy play in your professional life?
Apart from my research, and writing, my time is spent in two main ways: First with large groups, hundreds or more, making strategy come alive in an entertaining, memorable and thought-provoking way. This is not strategy as an academic subject. This is strategic thinking applied in imaginative ways to the real world problems and opportunities of the whole business. It’s a holistic approach that blends threads from inside the company with trends and events outside the company.
Second, I spend time working with executive teams, and boards of directors, acting as a strategic coach and facilitator. The role here is to ask demanding questions, get the most out of the team dynamic, reveal parts of the big picture that have not been noticed, and help leaders with powerful, effective strategic thinking. We shape the future together.
Dr Andrew MacLennan is a facilitator, educator, researcher and leading expert on strategy execution. He conducted the largest study ever undertaken in the field. MacLennan is Managing Director of Strategy Execution, which he founded in 1997.
Why is strategy important?
My area of expertise is strategy execution, so I am constantly seeing ‘strategy rubber hit the road’. It’s clear to me that well thought through strategy has enormous value for organisations. Not only does it improve their chances of being well positioned in the long-term, it also ensures much better aligned operational activities in the shorter term. It is easy for teams operating in a ‘strategic vacuum’ to waste huge amounts of time and effort speculating about what they need to achieve and inventing inadequate surrogates for good strategy.
What role does the SPS have to play?
I’m hugely enthused by the SPS’s new lease of life. It is important to have a body that can draw together a community of people with a professional interest in strategy, so that we can develop our knowledge base and strategy as a professional domain.
Why did you choose to upgrade from regular member?
I think it’s important that those who are passionate about strategy encourage wider recognition of its value – the introduction of Fellowships is a useful step in this direction.
What are your thoughts on the SPS professionalising strategy agenda?
I’m delighted that the SPS is pushing forward with its agenda to professionalise strategy. It’s a complex and difficult area in which to work, but it is vital to ensure the health of organisations. We need a structured path for people to keep learning about strategy and practice it in a professional fashion. I hope there will be wide and enthusiastic support for the agenda and energetic input from all quarters to make sure things progress effectively and with a practical focus.
During the past two decades, Lambros Karavis has merged the practice of strategic management consulting with leading change through executive development. Prior to forming Karavis & Associates in 1997, he was an Associate Partner with Andersen Consulting and Director of Executive MBA Programs at Monash MtEliza Business School.
Karavis is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) with IMC Australia. He has both an MBA and B.Ec. degree and has completed doctoral coursework in Business Policy in Canada. A passion for olive oil has led to graduate studies in olive growing, processing and marketing.
Is there a connection between the state of academic research in strategy and the drive of strategy practitioners to establish strategy as a profession?
One would be tempted to say a resounding ‘No!’ I’ve recently come to a tentative conclusion that strategy practitioners are in fact concerned that the lack of relevance in academic research may, in fact, be hampering the drive of some groups of practitioners to establish strategy (and I believe we mean ‘strategy management’) as a profession in its own right. The point of connection is in establishing a ‘strategy body of knowledge’, based upon research as well as practice, that most people appear to accept is one of the foundations of establishing a profession of strategy management.
How has strategy changed?
The field of Business Policy originally viewed strategy as one (important and central) component of the job of the General Manager (GM), who was responsible and accountable for the corporate strategy.
Between the late 1950s and mid-1970s there was a subtle but important shift: strategy became an organisational activity. By developing a framework for strategic decision-making it became possible to shift the activity from the GM to the organisation as a whole, initially through the creation of corporate (strategic) planning units, but relatively quickly as an organisation-wide (process) activity. The GM remained responsible and accountable but delegated authority to specialist staff and the organisation.
This subtle shift changed the practice of strategic decision-making within organisations – strategy was previously the GM’s realm and the organisation did not really have understand why, so much as how, the strategy was to be implemented: that view persists with some people, who still see (and occasionally define) strategy as the pattern in a stream of decisions.
The 1970s saw another significant shift in the teaching and research of strategy. During the 1950s strategy was seen predominantly as the means by which a GM resolved cross-functional tensions in a functionally organised business. The whole field of strategy focussed on how the organisation responded to the external (competitive) environment. The research during the 1970s on the strategy-structure-performance of diversified firms brought a whole new level of complexity to the strategic problems being studied and researched in business schools.
The 1980s saw another subtle but very important shift. Michael Porter’s two books – Competitive Strategy and Competitive Advantage – changed the way we formally thought about and analysed rivalry within industries, leading to a large number of research dissertations contributing significantly to our understanding of strategy and ultimately changed the way we taught strategy in business schools. Strategy moved from being taught as part of the ‘integrative, capstone course’ in General Management and Business Policy, to an introductory, first year overview course in Industry and Competitive Analysis.
Strategic planners were no longer ‘high priests’ and the skills required of strategists extended beyond the confines of business administration to the world of the political economy. The flow of ideas was reversed and strategy began to affect the disciplines of economics, sociology and politics.
Sitting at the cusp of the 1990s strategists knew that the world of strategy was fundamentally changing. Technology was changing the world of business. Personal computers were no longer a novelty. The internet was slowly emerging as a force out of universities into the business world. Biotechnology was creating new approaches to medicine and personal health. The global political environment was also changing. What would happen to China and Russia? Would the Uruguay Round of GATT discussions finally bear fruit and open the way for greater globalisation and world trade?
It is no coincidence that during the 1990s a lot of effort went into competitive advantage built on concepts of speed of response, surprise, innovation and flexibility. The means for doing so was in reengineering business processes and in looking for new business models that took advantage of the new technologies. Strategy research transitioned from a very pragmatic emphasis to a more theoretical perspective.
In the last decade, the rise of terrorism in the global economy – not simply Al Qaeda but also the rise of electronic warfare – needs to be incorporated into the way we view strategy in the modern world. It is sobering to think we may be entering a new world of increasing economic instability.
What are the implications for the body of knowledge on strategy and strategic management?
It depends on purpose. The body of knowledge required by strategy practitioners within organisations will be different from that required by strategy academics and different again from that required by strategy professionals:
• Strategy practitioners need a basic body of knowledge based upon pragmatic tools and techniques supplemented by a deep understanding of their industry.
• Strategy academics need the same basic body of knowledge (based upon pragmatic tools and techniques) but need to have a deep understanding of the academic research literature which most likely has a discipline base (for example, economics, politics and sociology).
• Strategy professionals need to same basic body of knowledge (in terms of tools and techniques) but in addition need to have a wealth of (research-based) case studies and specific examples of best practice in their field of expertise, presumably in a specialist area of strategy (such as corporate strategy, global strategy or city strategy) or a stage in strategic planning (such as strategy war-gaming, strategy execution or strategic organisation renewal).
Clearly a lot more thinking needs to be applied to the question of what needs to be known by different sub-groups identified above.
What are the cornerstones of professional certification?
Like Harvard Business School, I have not been afraid to borrow and adapt the approaches used by the US Army’s West Point for officer development and by Harvard Business School for leadership development, which may be summarised as ‘knowing’, ‘doing’ and ‘being’. I have added one more component, ‘contributing’:
• Knowing is related to mastering a body of knowledge about one’s area of professional expertise, relating to what we need to know about strategy and strategic management. I would include topics such as strategic planning models, the practice of strategic management, strategic processes within organisations, strategy lens (planning, learning, enacting), strategy clients (for example, companies, cities, countries, regions, governments), and strategy settings (industry, political systems, stages of development).
• Doing is related to the practice of strategy and requires a set of skills rather than a body of knowledge – knowing how things need to be done. This requires skills in strategic thinking, the strategic leadership of organisations, the administration of strategic planning systems and pragmatic skills like using strategy software, facilitating workshops, interviewing senior executives and preparing presentations.
• Being is related to individual integrity and ethics as a strategy professional. Strategy professionals are likely to have access to sensitive information about the capabilities and intentions of companies, which could be acted upon for personal gain: This could be seen as a form of insider trading. Strategy professionals must be able to build trust with senior executives so need personal integrity. More than being able to recite a professional oath of practice, it must also have ‘teeth’ in the sense that there are legal consequences.
• Contributing is related to the notion that members of the profession need to be seen to be giving something. This may mean taking the knowledge gained from professional practice and converting it into knowledge (action research), working on a pro-bono basis with organisations in the not-for-profit sector, or advancing the professional activities and membership of the profession.
The extent to which business schools (and possibly other third party bodies) should be involved in determining and delivering the body of knowledge to candidates aspiring to be strategy professionals needs to be resolved. Until now, business schools have had a free hand in determining the content of strategy courses.
In the absence of a professional certification requirement (and I do not consider the AACSB or EQUIS requirements in this context) faculty, as often as not, have used textbooks and their own research interests to select the content used.
Determining the competencies that the professional body will require of its members will also be needed. But the real issue will be determining the equivalency of different experience pathways, especially the value of strategy consulting experience compared to that of senior executives in industry and government.
The bottom line is that I don’t see professional certification as being based solely upon presumed mastery of a body of knowledge – important though that must be – but more broadly based on practice, ethical integrity and contributing to the profession.
Learning and change are two themes that run through the career of new SPS Trustee, Colin Tuckwell.
Initially a finance professional – banking and accountancy – Tuckwell has been a leader and pioneer in the practice of strategic management ever since graduating with leading grades from the Cranfield School of Management in 1980. He says that business school broadened his outlook more than he anticipated, and the finance director roles that were his aspiration going in were abandoned for wider strategic experience.
Tuckwell first joined Willis Faber as Head of Strategic Planning, an organisation then recently floated on the London Stock Exchange and in the FTSE 100 of the day. “It was a change leadership role, broadening the approach to business to include analysis and overt strategic thinking in the management and development of the organisation,” he says. The de-centralised environment sharpened his influencing skills, which he now uses to guide ambitious business leaders in the strategic development of their business.
Tuckwell first joined SPS in the early 1980s. “I wanted to network with others involved with strategic planning in organisations, share experiences, learn how to improve what I was leading in my own company,” he says.
This is not currently a significant part of SPS activity, notwithstanding the very encouraging recent success of the online community, but “it will return, and pretty soon”, says Tuckwell, who has been asked to lead the SPS Board in considering how its services to businesses and strategy practitioners should develop.
Few are better placed for such a role – as UK and Global Region Strategic Change Stream leader at Deloitte and Watson Wyatt (Towers Watson), respectively, he helped guide senior management teams and boards through many highly demanding programmes of corporate and personal development. But, after a highly successful line management and strategic consulting career, why is he again involving himself in SPS? “Easy”, he says – the SPS’s ‘Extended Mission’. “I’m at a stage when it’s relatively easy to give pro-bono time to a charity I believe in. SPS has adopted under Ian McDonald Wood’s Chairmanship the very challenging and highly compelling goal of establishing strategy as a profession.”
Working in strategic management for over 30 years, Tuckwell believes it brings together and synthesises all the skills and capability within an organisation, both to direct day-to-day operations, and to define and deliver positioning and development for the future, ensuring sustainability. “It’s the most sophisticated of management disciplines, the only one that brings together other professional disciplines, and gives them context and leadership for their business contribution.”
Yet those seeking to deploy these skills and lead organisations at the highest levels have no collective professional voice, and are not required to undertake any formal, defined learning as part of their personal development. “Do we let accountants, brain surgeons or aircraft pilots do their jobs without rigorous professional development?” asks Tuckwell.
He believes all board members of quoted businesses should be mandated to undertake formal learning in strategic management. “How can a board be anywhere near fully effective if there are people at that level who do not have the conceptual and empirical knowledge and linguistics of strategic leadership?” To fill the vacuum, the developing profession of strategic management will cover strategic leadership and corporate governance, as well as strategy development and its implementation, Tuckwell confirms.
He sees his generation as privileged and argues that they have a duty to give something back to subsequent generations. “We were the first Brits to get a formal education in strategic business management. Those of us with the experience, skills and capability to influence the future can ensure that the upcoming generations of people educated in strategic management make increasingly telling contributions to business and society as a whole. The challenges we all face demand it.”
Tuckwell is encouraged by those beginning to support the SPS. “We have leading academics helping use to define the body of knowledge the strategy profession should see as core,” he explains, noting that advocates and new SPS directors from among top business professionals are beginning to contribute to the development of the new profession. “The snowball is rolling. SPS Executive Officer Barnett is doing a great job pushing us forward.”
There are already around 10 Strategy Clubs in the early stages at business schools, including at Tuckwell’s almer mata, Cranfield. He expects many more in the next two years. Two years is his broad thinking on how long the initial phase of SPS ‘Extended Mission’ will take to fully accomplish. “I’ve told Ian I’ll certainly commit two years”. And after that? “I always make contributions, learn from them and be ready to move on – not blocking people coming on behind. However this agenda is enormous, and the value we might add in ensuring senior business people have developed the level of sophisticated skills needed in their roles would be huge.”
He expects the new SPS business model to be in place during the second half of 2012, supported by leading advocates. There is a sense that, if Tuckwell believes the SPS can strongly extend learning and skills development, lead major change in business thinking and add a lot of value, he might be around for longer than the next couple of years.
Kim Warren, a professor at London Business School and author of Strategy Dynamics explains why the strategy profession requires fundamental change.
What is wrong with strategy right now?
The strategic planning profession is not in a particularly good place. There are some good strategy consultants and some good strategic analysts and managers within companies, but generally there are some major failings in strategic management. If we had decent strategic management we would never have had the huge crises of 2001 and 2008.
What are the fundamental issues?
The problem goes back to the academic roots of the subject: we don’t have a codified knowledge base. Everyone knows what a lawyer needs to know in order to do their job. There’s no such requirement for strategists: people are left to pick up bits and pieces from a MBA or short courses. We need to codify what you need to know in order to do strategic analysis and strategic management properly. I’m not pretending that is easy. Good strategic decisions need to reflect an understanding of a variety of disciplines from marketing to HR and operations, so it’s a tough task.
Are you pleased to see the work the SPS is doing to improve the professionalisation of strategy?
The worry among academics is that strategy is being done poorly. They put all this effort in to teaching MBAs and executive courses but little ends up showing up in the real world. Part of what the SPS is doing is trying to bring academics and practitioners together, and this is clearly essential. The ladder of recognition is also a useful step in helping establish the profession. However, there is still much to be done. I would like to see a codified knowledge base, examinations that really test practitioners on that knowledge, and then recognition alongside that.
What developments in strategy interest you at the moment?
My work sits at the boundary of strategic development and implementation. The strategic work in business schools tends to be focused on the question of where to compete. More recently it has looked at the resources and capabilities available and those required in order to be successful. The problem is that these sorts of strategic decisions only happen very rarely. In between it is a question of implementation: the company has to be skilled at making the right decisions across the whole organisation all the time. We don’t have anything in the strategic field to help us do that. So it’s a question of how we work out what to do at all times in order to drive performance.
Javid Khan, new SPS Fellow and group strategy and business planning manager at National Grid has held a number of strategic positions at National Grid after completing an MBA at Warwick Business School. He explains why a complex business environment requires the expertise of professional strategists.
Why was the SPS Fellowship important to you?
It recognises the extent of my experience of strategy formulation and implementation both at an academic and practitioner level. It also recognises my passion for the subject and my commitment to further learning and continued professional development in the area.
How important is the increasing professionalisation of strategy?
The challenges of an increasingly complex business environment mean that strategy development and implementation require renewed focus. Therefore the role a strategist can play in helping shape the future direction of a firm, encourage debate, and challenge and review decisions becomes fundamentally important.
From a strategist’s perspective, a recognition of their profession, skillset and access to some of the latest thinking, research and practical models is a valuable proposition: the SPS does help a great deal in this regard.
What are the key strategic challenges you are dealing with at the moment?
Within my role at National Grid I am working on a diverse range of issues. This includes supporting the executive and board with our strategy review cycles as well as supporting the implementation of initiatives on the ground.
This brings a fabulous wealth of issues like energy policy, utility regulation, mergers and acquisitions and operational considerations. How these impact the business both now and in the future means that as a team we have to think about the ‘so-what’s’ of this diverse set of challenges, present the moves that we can make now and forecast what impact they will have on the world around us.
What developments in strategic planning particularly interest you?
The world has become a more unpredictable place and what I find particularly interesting is how organisations take account of the inherent uncertainty when developing their plans. Second, organisations often have ambitious and disjointed change programmes: how these are connected together in business plans and what is being done to de-risk their collective delivery is an interesting challenge a lot of companies are facing.
New SPS Fellow Stephen Pitt-Walker has more than 20 years of strategic advisory, consulting practice and programme management experience across many industry sectors. He is currently an independent consultant working in Australia and managing director of Pitt-Walker Solutions.
Why is the professionalisation of strategy so important?
I am pleased to see a lot of emphasis placed on strategy at the moment, but it needs to be recognised as a professional sphere in its own right. Part of the problem is that the understanding of strategy is so given to misinterpretation. I wouldn’t like to see it bounded by definition, but I would like to see it given more structure. At the moment it’s a case of ‘you know when you see it’.
What are the key challenges at the moment?
The big issues are change, transition, and rapid growth in a rapidly-changing landscape. Another major challenge is that often businesses lack strategy: there are a lot of reactive measures being implemented and organisations being non-strategic. People get scared and don’t want to lock themselves into a strategy, so they just react to what is going on around them on an ad-hoc basis. Flexibility is not an anathema to strategy: you can set your goals and objectives, but remain flexible and adaptive in a tactical way. People don’t understand that.
Do the same tools and approaches still work in a new environment?
The models and tools remain relevant, whether you’re talking about an organisational capability modelling tool or Porter’s 5 Forces or whatever. The sophistication comes in selecting the tool that’s appropriate to the challenge and the situation. A knowledge of strategy, education and innate strategic understanding are the factors that determine the organisation’s ability to do that.