5 things about strategy that aren’t even strategic


#1 Strategy is not about being correct all the time

Things that make sense and have everyone nodding along aren’t hard to defend. ‘Time poor IT professionals need to trust that their systems have airtight security’ isn’t exactly wrong but is it the most emotionally effective way to appeal to a person whose job role is the most targeted in B2B marketing, while being horribly stereotyped as a barely sentient functional clerk? Probably not. (more on shitty personas a later day) This isn’t about being contrarian or battling common sense for the sake of it, but a good strategy should make you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable because you’re taking a risk.

#2 Creativity is not just in the production of an artefact

A thumb stopping creative, an arresting visual, tear jerking scripting or a well-structured whitepaper — they’re classic outputs from a creative department. But creativity is also in solving problems cleverly – business problems, human problems, societal problems. Inventing new products and figuring out how to get over the nagging hump of business convention. A strategist’s sole contribution shouldn’t be producing a creative brief but in invention. We need more inventors and fewer art directors. (I’d love to never write a creative brief again)

#3 Strategy has to stop being about what’s in the deck

I build decks for a living. Decks with Venn diagrams and flowcharts. That’s expected. But decks aren’t just beautifully aligned visual backdrops to a zoom call where the CEO you’re presenting to is responding to their personal emails. A real strategy involves a clear set of choices that define what you are going to do and what you’re not going to do.

Most strategies fail because they do not represent a set of clear choices. A great strategy spends more time on the minutiae and execution than in describing what your strategy is about in 50 slides. Sometimes it’s about finding an opportunity in a challenge and playing the man around the challenge to get them to see things your way.

#4 A plan isn’t always a strategy

Sometimes it’s just an elaborate to-do list (and that’s ok).

I lied, I don’t have a 5th point.