One of the most effective methods of getting an answer is to ask a question. Makes sense … but what happens when you receive an answer? Do you hear what you are hoping for? Do you hear something else? Or more importantly, is your question ANSWERED? And when it comes to strategy, not only do you need to ask the right questions, you need to listen for the real answers.
What do I mean?
No matter whether you work for a large or a small company, or whether you work on the agency side, any strategy work that you do will require input from various stakeholders. That means creativity, innovation, collaboration … and of course, compromise. But, perhaps more than anything else, you will get STRATEGIC FOG.
The strategic fog creeps up slowly, spreading uncertainty and confusion. It looks harmless, but consumes all insight, process and creativity in its path. Unfortunately, we can all fall prey to this fog. It seduces us with its questions. It suggests that responsibility can be passed. The role of the strategist, however, is to hold your line of questioning and to pursue a path of inquiry.
A strategic fog normally takes two shapes:
- Tactics masquerading as strategy
- Unfounded solutions answering non-strategic problems
You know when you are dealing with strategic fog when you ask a simple question — "what’s your strategy?". This one, single question is like a grenade. You throw it and wait. In the wake of its detonation you will get one of two things — the clarity of a bell or the steady onslaught of fog.
Things to remember. A strategy …
- Is not a solution — you leave that to execution
- Can be supported by multiple tactics
- Should not be set in stone, but respond to your changing business conditions
- Will serve as a basis for action and decision-making
- Sounds simple, raw even, but resonates with the energy of your brand
- Is nothing without insight
Have you ever experienced the strategic fog? Did you find your way out?