Grand Strategy

Grand Strategy

Grand Strategy Jonathan Poland

A grand strategy is a comprehensive and long-term plan of action that encompasses all available options and resources in order to achieve a specific goal or objective. It differs from a normal strategy in that it has a wider scope and a longer duration, and it may take many years to implement. Grand strategies are often used in situations where a stable strategic direction is needed, such as in military, political, or business contexts.

They require a broad perspective and a deep understanding of the various factors that can impact the success of the plan, including resources, capabilities, and external forces. A grand strategy may involve using all available powers and resources under the control or influence of the planner in order to achieve the desired outcome. It is a high-level, overarching plan that guides decision-making and helps ensure the achievement of long-term goals. The following are illustrative examples of a grand strategy.

Intelligence & Counterintelligence

The pursuit of information and design of information flow to your adversaries. For example, an executive team that maintains a close eye on competitors in multiple industries with a program of competitive intelligence. It is also common for a firm to seek to misinform competitors such as a firm that announces vaporware designed to strike fear into the hearts of the competition.

Soft Power

Developing influence over others without any need of direct power over them. For example, a government that develops deep infrastructure ties to neighbors to create an environment of stability and economic cooperation whereby conflict is unthinkable.

Strategic Commitment

Grand strategy is often far longer term than a regular strategy and requires a consistent strategic direction that spans years or decades. For example, the American strategy of containment during the Cold War whereby power and soft power were used to stop the spread of communism. It can be argued that this strategy remained in place for several decades in a reasonably consistent form.


Grand strategy may seek to influence all stakeholders in a strategic situation. In the case of government, this may be described as propaganda. Business influence may be described with marketing terms such as brand image. For example, an industry with a poor environmental record may spend decades attempting to improve its image with marketing techniques.

Research & Development

Developing technologies that change your strategic situation. For example, a technology executive who sees a way to completely disrupt an industry to replace all existing competition with a new type of product or service.

Moral Wins

Winning hearts and minds by doing the right thing and being on the right side of change. For example, a firm that makes a sacrifice now to get on the right side of a sweeping social change.

All Options

Grand strategy is associated with actions that are normally considered off-the-table. For example, a business grand strategy may include approaches such as layoffs, divestiture, consolidation, mergers and liquidation that the firm doesn’t normally consider a strategic option.

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