Mastering Business Analytics: The real MBA for career success, Step-by-Step
Strategy: The firm's and individual's roadmap into the future.
Whether an individual or a firm, it's pointless to try to navigate (much perservere) to an unknown destination. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Dell and Microsoft have, for some time, successfully employed a "good enough" and "screw-the-customer" strategy. Apple, in contrast, has, virutally from the outset, tied its coporate fate to, being "insanely great."
Until recently, Dell and MS flourished, but their non-vision is proving their respective downfalls. Yes, we're well aware of the latter's long bogarting of the Win-API and the probable emergence of xml/html as the new desktop metaphor. (Our hopelessly ignorant judiciary garner their due credit, too.) As for Apple, their record has been checkered, at best, though they have done a good job of strategically re-defining themselves under Jobs's leadership.
WalMart targeted the American masses. They succeeded in that pursuit by adopting and doggedly executing a range of management science activities across a wide spectrum of firm activities. K-Mart, for much of its history, proved, at best, an erratic and helter-skeltic competitor by not seeming to have neither strategy nor endgame.
WalMart, of course, hit-the-wall in terms of numbers; statistically, there were nil potential new customers. So, confronted with a commodity brand and business model (at least those two were always in-synch), they had to turn to other channels and other "brands," e.g., Sam's ... and more to come.
Strategy is the primary underpinning of executive function. If we get it right, we can survive some suboptimal exectution. If it's amiss, the best that we can hope for is a suboptimal result.
Copycat strategy is a non-strategy; blindly following aphorisms is a likely route to Chapter VII or XI. Loyalty and other similarly appealing traps often pave the way to financial oblivion; several are discussed on Myths.