There are two types of strategists, the Gaussian and the Paretian (this is a simplification, but it is very explanatory). The difference between the two is in how they view the probability of human events. The Gaussian strategist views the distribution of events along a normal curve (the cure to the left in the diagram from Albert-Laszlo Barabasi's, "Linked"). The Paretian strategist views the distribution via the lens of the Pareto curve (the curve to the right). Here's a good explanation of the difference from business strategist John Hagel:
These are two very different ways of viewing the world, with some events following a Gaussian distribution (classic example: the heights of individual human beings) and other events following a Pareto distribution (classic examples: frequency of word use, size of human settlements, distribution of Internet traffic and intensity of earthquakes).
Historically, Gaussian expectations for most events derived from human systems were usually correct. In that world, dampening factors dominated within relatively sparse and simple systems, driving events towards the mean. Over the last decades, however, systems have shifted towards towards ever greater levels of complexity and information density. The result has been a shift towards Paretian outcomes, particularly within any event that contains a high percentage of informational content. Another way to see this is through the lens of what Nassim Taleb calls mediocristan (Gauss) and extremistan (Pareto) in his excellent book, The Black Swan. Here's a great comparison of attributes from these two worlds (paraphrased from that excellent book):
Our collective problem is that Gaussian strategists dominate public policy and Paretian strategists are usually relegated to the status of pariahs (this is much less true in business, where the mechanism of entrepreneurship harnesses Paretian outlooks). In contrast, the mechanisms and processes of our opposition is increasingly focused on creating Pareto outcomes (with ever greater levels of success). Essentially this means the intentional creation of small events that use global system dynamics to create outsized outcomes (to potentially change the world). For example, a bad Paretian event is 9/11 and on the good side is weblogs/RSS (where I played a major role in generating events that took the technology from rough ideas to a major upgrade of the WWW). As Paretian outcomes continue on their path to dominating events, that gap is going to loom large unless we can find a way to bridge it. From my personal experience with the nearly complete lack of interest within big government bureaucracies for Paretian thinking that is far more explanatory, actionable, and predictive than what they currently produce, I don't think we will unless we develop it outside the traditional public organizations. In that sense, we will all need to become global guerrillas.