Getting Strategy Straight

March 2017

The word strategy is used a lot (maybe even overused). Yet it is a word that is often misunderstood and misused in marketing circles.

Bernadette Jiwa, on her blog, The Story of Telling, explains strategy like this:

Suppose you were on a riverbank and the place you want to get to is on the other side. That is your destination or objective. There are no bridges or obvious places to cross. You need a plan to get from here to there. So, rather than walking further up the river to find a place to cross, you decide to cross the river at the spot where you are standing. Now you have a plan to get to the other side. This is your strategy. It doesn’t tell you how you’re going to cross over the river, it simply states your commitment to a plan to get to the other side.

Next, you decide that rather than using a boat or constructing a bridge, you are going to use a series of stepping stones to cross successfully to your destination. Decisions like how you will cross the river, by boat, bridge, or even the type of stepping stones you choose or how far apart they should be placed are tactical.

When you break it down, the process looks like this:

Objective: The What
Strategy: The Way
Tactics: The How

River levels or conditions may change over time, which means you may have to adjust your tactics (the how), but the strategy (the way) remains the same, if and until you make the decision that the strategy (or the way you are crossing the river) needs to change to meet the objective (the what).

Good strategy is concise, actionable and designed to set a direction to get you to your (measurable) destination. Nothing more and nothing less.