Didn’t really have a plan when I wrote this post, which is evident upon review. It meanders quite a bit, but I’m going with it in the interest of getting it out there. Thoughts appreciated ...
I have a sign hanging on my bulletin board. It’s a quote from the great Yogi Berra: If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.
To me it beautifully represents a fundamental idea behind the word strategy. Yogi was a simple man of short stature and a workman mentality. Sadly if he worked in the marketing communications world today he would be defined as a great doer who should stay out of the heady world of strategy. [before you get all nuts about Yogi’s sub-par record as a big-league manager, recognize that he’s one of the greatest catchers of all time, and that catcher is the most strategic position on the field]
From where I sit, strategy should not be proprietary to a specific group. I know plenty of strategists in title [disclosure: including me], and we're no different from the rest of the world in terms of where we fall on spectrums like lame --> awesome; selfish --> selfless; dumb --> smart; blind --> aware. This is not empty self-deprecation – some of us are kind, gracious, smart and culturally aware beings; others, not so much.
And what the heck does strategy even mean any more? It’s been so convoluted and misappropriated by big picture thinkers [who Amber absurdly and hysterically points out tend to type with two fingers]. It’s debated endlessly. It causes eyes to roll [you just don’t get it]. It’s the subject of intensive training courses. It’s silly.
I’m not going to try explaining how this happened – I don’t claim to have enough historical knowledge to make that analysis [though if I ventured to guess, these things tend to be driven by fear].
So because of all this I’m proposing we kill strategy. Not the concept, but the word. And not because of how badly it’s misused. But because as long as we keep calling it strategy a certain subset will feel exclusive ownership of it, and I’m not real long on that.
So what do we do? There are plenty of acceptable options ...
Just call it a plan to achieve a goal (per Ben Kunz). Works for me.
You could also go the Jim Mitchem route and call it a box. Liberally [very, but I believe this is what he was tweeting about the other day] paraphrasing Jim, the box we continually try to think outside of is actually the strategy upon which solid creative is built.
I suppose we could make up a word. I quite like the sound of Bokywoo [seems to be available]. The meaning of this new word will really be no different than how Yogi, Ben or Jim define strategy, but gets us over the semantical arguments [at least until we all have time to change our business cards].
Whatever we land on, let’s get over the discussion about who owns strategy. Lofty concepts, fancy charts, clever turns of phrases be damned. The person who owns strategy will be the one who can best articulate the finish line and a solid way of getting there.
So, do you think there should continue to be an assigned group of people who own strategy?
Do you agree that the argument over the definition of the word has eclipsed the importance of actually developing a good plan? If so, why? What can we do to fix it?