Marina Henke presents the 'Dos and Don'ts' of strategy making

Marina Henke outlines the process of defining a sound strategy. 

In a policy brief prepared for the NATO Defence College Research Division, Marina Henke, Professor of International Relations and Director of the Centre for International Security at the Hertie School, suggests best practices in strategy-writing in view of NATO’s new strategic concept, which will be adopted in June 2022. Henke reviews the work of past practitioners and academics to identify critical “dos and don’ts” of strategy design.  

According to Henke, the process of designing sound strategy can be boiled down to five steps: 

(1) defining the core strategic goals NATO wants to achieve, (2) identifying the strategic challenges that might hinder NATO from achieving those goals, (3) analysing the strategic problems: why do these obstacles that might hinder NATO from achieving its goals exist?, (4) taking account of other states’ reactions, and (5) unpacking the toolbox: which tools are best suited to meet the challenges at hand? Henke also recognises that errors may be made when planning NATO's Strategic Concept and highlights several mistakes to avoid, such as defining unattainable goals or conflating means and ends. 

Henke stresses that strategic considerations and calculations must be constantly reconsidered and adapted, referring to strategy development as a "constant feedback loop in which we keep our goals in view, while at the same time using new information and insights to readjust our course accordingly."

Download the full brief (in English) here

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More about the expert

  • Marina Henke, Professor of International Relations | Director, Centre for International Security