There are almost as many tools and schools of thought on formulating strategy as there are organizations doing so. If the future were clear and risk-taking formulaic, the variability between organizations (and the performance they achieve) would not be as wide as it is.
Until then, good strategy involves a mix of domain experience, wisdom, good data, managerial involvement, and a group of committed agile minds capable of looking at a problem from a variety of angles.
It also entails driving to decisions - taking explicit, measured risks and getting on with it. Failing to decide, or studying a problem to the point of paralysis are de facto decisions. Good strategy involves deciding when to live with inadequate data while keeping the strategy conversation alive and subject to amendment as and when new data comes in.
Rather than using a single methodology for formulating strategy, Cartegic maintains a diverse toolkit of approaches - both well-established and highly customized - plus ties to a range of academics, fellow strategists and corporate practitioners. We work closely with clients to apply the most appropriate tool(s) for each one's unique situation.
Our strategy clients have tended to break town into three basic types (with hybrids almost as numerous as the pure forms):
"Vision-Driven" organizations (often but not always in technology industries and/or with a strong entrepreneurial culture) need only high level direction and vision, plus a few shared signposts to maintain rough coherence in execution. Many traditional strategic planning tools are seen as too cumbersome or constraining for these clients. Past industry data is often irrelevant since the plan is to invent an entirely new one. Directional strategy is enough; details are left up to line managers.
"Plan-Driven" organizations feel most comfortable only after detailed execution plans have been fully fleshed out and widely vetted. Before the organization can commit to the larger strategy of which the plan is a part, all key executives need to 'own' the particulars - including consensus financials and contingency plans. A variety of analytical tools may be appropriate in such organizations, but all must drive to a detailed plan.
"Tools Driven" organizations are rarer but for any number of reasons (e.g., regulatory compliance, established organizational practice, appropriateness to a particular industry, background of the CEO), one or a handful of analytical tools and strategy-setting methods dominate the dialogue among executives as well as the decision-making process. These can include financials-driven organizations as well as those steeped in market analysis, game theory, scenarios or other approaches.