Finally, an important nuance: For most large, complex companies, the questions of corporate strategy — questions 4 and 5 — are relevant at multiple levels, not just for the company overall. For example, a division with multiple businesses (consider consumer banking at Citi or GE’s industrials group) represents more of a corporate portfolio than a single business unit. In fact, most divisions, segments, groups, and even business units can be thought of as having a portfolio of smaller businesses within them, thus making the questions of both corporate and business strategy relevant to their strategies.
Business leaders, strategic planners, and even strategy consultants often confuse business and corporate strategy. You can keep them straight by being clear on the questions that are relevant at your level.
- Ken Favaro is a senior partner with Booz & Company based in New York. He leads the firm’s work in enterprise strategy and finance.