After years of consultancy, we can see that in many organizations we repeat the reply of the above question. There are many definitions for strategy but as we always say we love the simplest one which makes sense and it is practical.
Let's go through the words one by one:
An optimized solution is NOT necessarily the shortest or the cheapest one. Right? It's the most effective or/and the most efficient one.
On the other hand, many of us aren't able to distinguish between Strategy and Objective.
Objective is what we would like to reach to it for bringing the result of our activities to the next level. Either in an organization or in our personal life, we always would like to improve. Strategy is the most optimized action plan to reach to our objective(s).
How to make it?
Simply, we accept some challenges and we start to fight for it.
But strategy is a combination of different methodologies to reach there. As you know in balanced scorecard (BSC) we have four pillars. Based on the instructions of BSC, we need to harmonize all pillars if we would like to reach to what we would like to. Therefore it is highly advised to set some KPIs, targets and sub-objectives for each pillar and then improve the relevant pillar to reach to the objective(s).
This basically means that strategy and objectives are completely two different things and we cannot mix them at all.
In many board meetings we have seen that when executives start the discussion, they completely mix these two important issues and then they decide two improve results based on this mixture!
Simply, make the sub-objective of each BSC pillar clear and then understand the relationship of each sub-objective in your four pillars to define your strategy practically.
Good luck in defining your strategies ; )