Formulating strategy necessitates understanding where the firm is competitively at present and the capabilities the firm can bring to bear. It requires to firm to analyse its environments, contexts, markets, other participants and itself.
Plans and expectations of the future depend on assumptions about all aspects of the competitive landscape, including how other actors will behave under changing market conditions. Challenging meaningfully the validity of assumptions is an essential element of strategy-making.
Perhaps the most difficult part of setting strategy is imagining the environments and contexts in which the firm operates being different from the present. Imagining the firm as different is critical to initiating change and sustaining adaptive capability in the firm.
Bringing together the different elements of strategy-making in to a vibrant and dynamic narrative about the purpose and future of the firm under different conditions is strategic synthesis. Without it, strategy will be very difficult to realise.