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My Philosophy on Strategy…

I have been clearing out my bookmarks and saved articles from Twitter the last few days to help put some stuff in my ticket newsletter, to find ideas for new products or services, and for inspiration. 

I’ve been working from the bottom up, don’t know why, but I came across this piece from Tom Roach titled “Do you have a marketing philosophy?” 

That inspired me to think through my philosophy of strategy. And, to go a step further, how that impacts things I work on around branding and marketing. 

At the foundational level, I think about a business and strategy as going through four stages:

  • Corporate level: That’s like a satellite circling the earth. You have to get the big picture, but things move pretty quickly and you struggle to spend too much time on any one thing without a lot of effort. 
  • Brand level: I view this as like jet, maybe even the Concorde, you get a better view of the landscape you are passing over, but you are still looking at things pretty quickly and from a pretty high level. 
  • Marketing level: I’d describe this as the skydiver level. You are locked in a bit more and can focus on a specific target or two. You have more time to decide and more control on where you come down. 
  • Tactical level: To me, this is like running around at the street level in a car with bad brakes and the GPS on your phone is out. This means you can bounce around a bit, you might have to make quick decisions, and you have to hope your plan really works so that you know where you are supposed to end up. 

I do realize this is a tortured analogy of strategy through the lens of transportation, but that is the foundation of my strategy philosophy. 

Ultimately, at the top level, your strategy is about choosing a direction for your business. You need to make some pretty simple choices because you know that complexity is going to be a killer. 

In my philosophy, this is the core tenant: simplicity. 

How can I make the art of strategy simple for people so that they will make a choice? So that they will focus on a specific market? So they will put an action plan together and then do those actions? 

The second big piece of my philosophy of strategy is that most strategy ultimately boils down to your brand strategy and your marketing strategy. 

At the brand level, you are focusing on the image you want to give to the world. Then, at the marketing level, you are focusing on getting people to take action based on the brand promise. 

At a tactical level, my belief is you have to have a clear understanding of where you are trying to go because there are so many tactical options that if you aren’t really clear in your strategic intention, you can get overwhelmed by the tactical options. 

Finally, my core philosophy on strategy is that strategy isn’t an event, but an ongoing conversation you are having with your team, your business, and the world around you. 

I find that most “strategy” isn’t strategy but a wishlist, a grab bag, or, worse, a form of procrastination that takes the shape of “planning”. 

If you are really doing strategy, you are making a decision, taking action, and checking out your results against your expectations…rinse and repeat. 

I don’t know if I held true to Tom’s piece, but if I had to boil my strategy philosophy down to a few bullet points, they’d be:

  • Simplicity
  • Focus
  • Actions
  • Consistent reflection

Do you have a philosophy of strategy? Branding? Marketing? 

Let me know. 

Or, am I way off here? 

Let me know that as well.