Where do you start? The end or the beginning?

I was asked yesterday to summarise my approach to strategy how it compares to that of others.  Using the graphic above I explained about the two extremes of the strategy generation spectrum and the placement of my approach.

By far the common strategy approach commences with construction of an idealised future proceeded by reverse engineered a plan laying out a path to the 'broad sunlight uplands.'

At the other extreme, and by far less common, is the exclusively evolutionary approach (the 'Richard Dawkins' approach). We are where we are and if we experiment sufficiently, we will be successful—as long as we have enough resources.  By throwing enough darts we will eventually hit a bulls eye or, given sufficient time, a dozen monkeys with a dozen typewriters will eventually the complete works of Shakespeare. Choose your own analogy.

I take the best of both extremes.  A sense of end point (sense, not definition) provides guidelines for decision making, but an accurate of understanding of your starting point is absolutely critical.

If you aim is to win a 5000m race, you'd better know, accurately, whether you have a physiology of a marathon runner, or the physique of a defensive linesman.