When I first had the S-word in my job title 25 years ago, the position was a headquarters ‘staff’ role (not P&L responsible), but the accountability was to help the organization as a whole – including line managers globally – to develop plans that included actions and initiatives to build competitive advantage. In other words, to borrow Delaney’s words, “Empowering people who don’t have the word “strategy” in their job titles to think strategically about what they’re executing on for the business”. He cites this as an alternative to having a ‘strategy’ job title, but in fact it ought to be a description of what that job entails. I currently chair the strategy planning committee of a non-profit, ArtsATL, and I advise technology businesses on go-to-market strategies. The people I work with while wearing each of these hats are well aware of the truth of Selnick’s doctrine, and usually find that Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints (from the novel ‘The Goal’, approvingly cited by Delaney) is helpful in moving from strategy to action.

If there are still organisations around that see strategy as somehow divorced from operations, perhaps changing the strategists’ job titles might help them come into the 21st century – but I doubt it.