Tactics: Be a better strategist

Tactics: Be a better strategist

Almost every one I meet wants to do strategy, be a strategist or marry Mark Pollard.  But why? Imagine this, you’re a solider in a war, a general even, and the enemy has broken through, and it is hand to hand combat.

Where the fuck is your strategy now?

Another analogy: if you were a painter – how would you paint if it weren’t for your brush tips and hands? The very tactile nature of the process is actually what creates the beautiful image.

Tactics, implementation, the nuts & bolts and getting shit done is one of the areas that agencies truly under value.  Planners, creatives and strategists look like drunken generals when the plan goes to shit. And we all cry ‘well if you’d followed my fluffy power point we wouldn’t be in this mess and millions of people would Like your page, download your app and Tweet all over your face’.

Stop. Just stop. And go back to basics.  Then maybe you’ll be a better strategist, story-teller, and visionary. Or whatever you want to be.

Be a better strategist

  1. Learn to write. Learn to edit. Learn to seek criticism (not praise). Read a book. Read a book on writing. And pick up a pencil.
  2. Learn to design. Just a little bit. Whether its photoshop, video editing, or mastering PowerPoint.  Visual representations of your ideas will help.
  3. Learn to build graphs. Yes, Andy Jamieson, I know – you were right. There I said it. Graphs, data analysis and excel open up insights, realities and worlds quicker than anything else.  And learn to write for business while you’re there.
  4. Learn a few more words. Thesaurus. Then learn how not to use even more words. Then start using as few as you can.
  5. Learn to listen. Shut up. Please – until someone else has stopped talking and you’re sure you’ve collected your thoughts. You will sound a lot smart the less you talk.

Stop and think next time you’re about to launch into a pitch or consultation. Think before you grab your minions, ask them to write your next presentation, make it beautiful and get it back to you with some lovely video.  Listen and learn from the next CEO who gives you 10,000 points of data and wants your point of view.  And stop thinking about agency land for a few days.

Strategy could get you killed.

Photo credit: Dunechaser

Jye Smith is currently Senior Vice President, Head of Strategy & Operations, Asia Pacific at Weber Shandwick. Ranked in B&Ts 30 Under 30, Jye a regular keynote speaker and workshop facilitator who specialises in digital and social media strategist.

There are 6 comments for this article
  1. James at 3:37 pm

    The future of advertising belongs to do-ers and it doesn’t matter where they come from.; strategy, accounts, creative or the kitchen.

  2. Phill at 9:12 am

    Opening paragraph made me chortle.

    I often find that being “spread thin” across different activities (or regiments) gives one a ground level view of the battle at hand. With this you can effectively communicate to the upper levels of the best route forward.

    Feeling as though I should pick up The Art of War again… Cheer J!

  3. Peter Thomson at 11:47 pm

    Dare Digital in London have taken to calling this approach “Tactical Planning”. Meaning that in social media things happen so fast that Strategists need real life skills to be able to contribute on the front lines.

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