Strategy Quotes & Quotations

by Paul Simister on September 6, 2011

I have a weakness for quotes so I thought I’d start building up a list of my favourite strategy quotes and quotations.

I’ve split these into two categories – those strategy quotes that support strategic planning and those that take more of a negative view about strategy and planning.

Positive Strategy Quotes

I’ve grouped these strategy quotations into different sections, separating those with multiple quotes I like before a general “who said what” category.

Strategy Quotes – Jim Collins

Good is the enemy of great. Jim Collins

The best CEOs in our research display tremendous ambition for their company combined with the stoic will to do whatever it takes, no matter how brutal (within the bounds of the company’s core values), to make the company great. Jim Collins

The kind of commitment I find among the best performers across virtually every field is a single-minded passion for what they do, an unwavering desire for excellence in the way they think and the way they work. Jim Collins

A dream is a feeling that sticks – and propels. Jim Collins

A great company will have many once-in-a-liftetime opportunities. Jim Collins

Those who build great companies understand that the ultimate throttle on growth for any great company is not markets, or technology, or competition, or products. It is one thing above all others: the ability to get and keep enough of the right people. Jim Collins

Focusing solely on what you can potentially do better than any other organizaton is the only path to greatness. Jim Collins

You can’t manufacture passion or “motivate” people to feel passionate. You can only discover what ignites your passion and the passions of those around you. Jim Collins

Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline. Jim Collins

Strategy Quotes – Gary Hamel and CK Prahalad (authors of Competing For The Future)

A company surrenders today’s businesses when it gets smaller faster than it gets better. A company surrenders tomorrow’s business when it gets better without getting different.  Gary Hamel and CK Prahalad

Laggards follow the path of greatest familiarity. Challengters on the other hand follow the path of greatest opportunitywhere it leads Gary Hamel and CK Prahalad

An industry full of clones is an opportunity for any company that isn’t locked into the dominant managerial frame Gary Hamel and CK Prahalad

If a top management team cannot clearly articulate the five or six fundamental industry trends that most threaten its firm’s continued success, it is not in control of the firm’s destiny Gary Hamel and CK Prahalad

Strategy Quotes – Michael Porter

Strategy must have continuity. It can’t be constantly reinvented Michael Porter

Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different Michael Porter

The company without a strategy is willing to try anything Michael Porter

The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do Michael Porter

If all you’re trying to do is essentially the same thing as your rivals, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be very successful. Michael Porter

Strategy Quotes – Sun Tzu

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle Sun Tsu

All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved Sun Tzu

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat Sun Tzu

Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances Sun Tzu

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. Sun Tzu

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win Sun Tzu

Ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle, but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting.  Sun Tzu

If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected. Sun Tzu

He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight Sun Tzu

Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the attack. Sun Tzu

To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy. Sun Tzu

Strategy Quotes – Other

Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference Joel Barker

If you don’t know where you are going, you are certain to end up somewhere else Yogi Berra

If you can’t describe your strategy in twenty minutes, simply and in plain language, you haven’t got a plan. ‘But,’ people may say, ‘I’ve got a complex strategy. It can’t be reduced to a page.’ That’s nonsense. That’s not a complex strategy. It’s a complex thought about the strategy. Larry Bossidy

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results Winston Churchill

Let our advance worrying become our advance thinking and planning Winston Churchill

It’s not the situation … It’s your reaction to the situation Robert Conklin

In order to plan your future wisely, it is necessary that you understand and appreciate your past Jo Coudert

Leadership is getting the right people to do the right thing for the right reason in the right way at the right time at the right use of resources Clark Crouch

Strategic Planning is a process by which we can envision the future and develop the necessary procedures and operations to influence and achieve that future Clark Crouch

In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment. Charles Darwin

You have to be fast on your feet and adaptive or else a strategy is useless Charles de Gaulle

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable Dwight D. Eisenhower

Plans are nothing; planning is everything Dwight D. Eisenhower

A goal without a plan is just a wish Larry Elder

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right! Henry Ford

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail Benjamin Franklin

It amazes me that most people spend more time planning next summer’s vacation than they do planning the rest of their lives Patricia Fripp

If you need to take a step back from day-to-day operations and plot out the long-term direction of your user experience strategy, consultants can give you a perspective you can’t get on your own Jesse James Garrett

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore Andre Gide

Change is not a destination, just as hope is not a strategy Rudy Giuliani

What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens Thaddeus Golas

I always skate to where I think the puck is going to be Wayne Gretsky

Only the paranoid survive Andrew Grove

The essential element of successful strategy is that it derives its success from the differences between competitors with a consequent difference in their behavior Bruce Henderson

Success doesn’t necessarily come from breakthrough innovation but from flawless execution. A great strategy alone won’t win a game or a battle; the win comes from basic blocking and tackling Naveen Jain

High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation Jack Kinder

If we do what is necessary, all the odds are in our favor Henry Kissinger

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now Alan Lakein

A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all Michael LeBoeuf

If we could first know where we are and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do and how to do it Abraham Lincoln

If you look at the various strategies available for dealing with a new technology, sticking your head in the sand is not the most plausible strategy Ralph Merkle

Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things Miyamoto Musashi

Strategic planning is worthless — unless there is first a strategic vision John Naisbitt

There is always a better strategy than the one you have; you just haven’t thought of it yet Sir Brian Pitman

The single biggest problem in business is staying with your previously successful business model… one year too long Lew Platt

Living in the past is a Jethro Tull album, not a smart poker strategy Richard Roeper

In marketing I’ve seen only one strategy that can’t miss – and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last John Romero

It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan Eleanor Roosevelt

What do you want to achieve or avoid? The answers to this question are objectives. How will you go about achieving your desire results? The answer to this you can call strategy. William Rothschild

It’s unwise to pay to much… But it’s worse to pay to little.When you pay to much, you lose a little money… that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot…. It can’t be done.If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better. John Rushkin

You may not be interested in strategy, but strategy is interested in you Leon Trotsky

Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity – not a threat. Unknown

The best way to predict the future is to create it Unknown

A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow Unknown

There will be hunters and hunted, winners and losers. What counts in global competition is the right strategy and success. Heinrich von Pierer

Four steps to achievement: Plan purposefully. Prepare prayerfully. Proceed positively. Pursue persistently William Arthur Ward

In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell Jack Welch

The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing Oscar Wilde

You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win Zig Zigler

Negative Strategy Quotes

The reason that everybody likes planning is that nobody has to do anything Jerry Brown

It is a bad plan that admits of no modification Publilius Syrus

Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy Norman Schwarzkopf

A good deal of the corporate planning I have observed is like a ritual rain dance; it has no effect on the weather that follows, but those who engage in it think it does. Moreover, it seems to me that much of the advice and instruction related to corporate planning is directed at improving the dancing, not the weather. J. Brian Quinn

Have I Missed Your Favourite Strategy Quote?

If I’ve missed you’re favourite strategy quote, then I’d be delighted if you could add it as a comment.

As I find more that sum up the essence of strategy and strategic planning, I’ll be adding to this list of strategy quotations.

Paul Simister is a business strategy coach who helps business owners to differentiate their businesses and develop winning strategies. Get your free copy of the ebook The Six Steps Profit Formula.

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