Strategy that moves

Not enough people invest in strategy—not just planning, not just ideation, but actual strategy. Because developing a strategy is hard, self-reflective work.

It’s the craft of finding out what doesn’t matter, and the art of saying “no.”

In recent years, it’s become fashionable to shun strategy all together, e.g. the memeable Herb Kelleher quote, “We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things.” The sentiment behind this idea is right: the world moves too quickly to be constantly planning. Too many companies get caught in the trap of trying to make products, campaigns, services perfect before they launch, instead of creating viable versions of their ideas and letting the market give them feedback—or better yet, involving their customers in the design process.

But strategy and strategic planning are not the same thing. Without a viable strategy, you can move at the speed of the customer but waste a lot of time executing things that don’t matter.

The truth of course is that today’s environment requires both aggressively shortening the strategic planning cycle and executing in a way that gives you constant feedback. But that virtuous cycle only works if you’re pointed in the right direction in the first place.

PS, We recently invited our community partners to our office to talk about the 18 Coffees point-of-view on strategy, and it was a geeky, fun conversation. I’m constantly amazed at the wit and creativity they bring to modern problem solving.