WHAT IS STRATEGY?

For whatever reason, communications STRATEGY tends to be something that needs multiple explanations and examples. I have heard it described as an unnecessary complication and/or an unaffordable luxury. I have also been told that it confuses or pollutes creativity. On the flip side, I've been told that having one packs an intense punch and brings clarity to the creative process.

So which is it? The answer is both. You can certainly win a game of chess mindlessly playing by the rules. (Assuming your opponent is less skilled than you). You can accomplish all of your errands in a day without mapping them out. (Assuming you have all the time in the world). You can get the girl to go out with you (once) or get through an entry level job interview. But if you want to ensure better, more consistent results--if it's something important to you--most people employ some form of STRATEGY. 

For example: You are looking for a place to live. After an initial exploration that may include some driving around, web searching, polling of friends and some pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking, you realize that your deadline is fast approaching and it's time to get serious. So you decide on a budget. Then a neighborhood. Or a particular style. Questions arise such as: Is it more important to be close to work or in a good school district? Do I want something with tons of space and light or a neighborhood chock-a-block with kids? A fixer-upper or move-in ready? What compromises am I willing to make for increased resale value? 

This is where it can start to get complicated. How do you define your priorities? When you end up with 3 very different, but viable possibilities, how do you decide which is the right one? What does the resulting conversation sound like with your spouse, kids or roommates? 

Some say they would just "go with their gut." But that's just another more visceral, less disciplined expression of strategy. When it's too important to go with your gut; when you really need to get it right; when you want to win...you strategize. 

 

 

"SENSEMAKING"

...or the Role of the Strategic Planner in Advertising

When “BeerCo” found its pub sales falling, market research and competitive analysis provided no help. So it sent out a team of social anthropologists to investigate. The resulting data, including field notes, photographs, and videos, yielded insights that prompted the company to revamp its promotional materials and training methods. Sales rebounded within two years and are still growing.

BeerCo’s story shows how the emerging approach of “sensemaking” can illuminate customers’ true needs and facilitate successful transformations of product development, organizational culture, and corporate strategy. Rooted in the human sciences—anthropology, sociology, political science, and philosophy—sensemaking is a five-step process. Companies must:

Reframe the problem, focusing on the customer’s experience of the product and the market

Collect raw, firsthand data

Find patterns in the data

Generate new insights

Translate those insights into initiatives

Sensemaking can help solve some of the toughest business problems and enables leaders to think creatively about what business they’re really in.
— Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel B. Rasmussen, Harvard Business Review, March 2014