On the 4th of April I presented Strategy Hacking to an extremely diverse and delightfully engaged group of attendees from the Passionate Marketers Philly Meetup. I had a great time and am extremely grateful to everyone who peppered me with questions and helped dream up examples of applications of the concepts.
The core concept of a strategy is deconstructing a complex business problem into its component parts, making it comprehensible to a broad swath of individuals with varying expertise, conveying a vision for the future and defining a path forward.
The process of creating a strategy must run in parallel with building support for the strategy. I'm not sure that "my strategy" can ever be successful. Only "our strategy," made in collaboration with stakeholders, SMEs, leaders, customers and others, has a chance. Eventually the strategy will be out there for everyone to discuss and criticize, and unless you take the time during creation to collaborate and really listen to contributors - identifying and addressing objections while gathering data and insight - those objections will surface and may impair your ability to gain consensus and action.
Truth is, the objections may be correct. It takes openness and trust to hear and consider objections and input as you create - and it may drive you in new and unexpected directions - which is wonderful! Some objections to strategy are natural human resistance to change. Don't discount this resistance. Plan for it and communicate it. Human beings are the foundation of any strategy and will need to be reassured that the strategy is not only for the common good but an evolutionary step for them (and their teams).
I called it Strategy Hacking first because, well, the name just popped into my head. I liked it because when I create a strategy it usually starts as a pastiche of my prior work and that of others. Until the narrative thread emerges, it feels like I'm "hacking together" a mess of bits and pieces that eventually come to mean something.
But when I looked up the word "hacking" the definition intrigued me:
"the gaining of unauthorized access to data in a system or computer"
I thought about how "strategy" tends to be perceived as the purview of MBA grads working for Accenture, Bain, Deloitte, BCG. Expensive. Impenetrable. Intimidating. I don't fault any of these businesses for doing great strategy work for huge enterprises (I worked for Accenture), but I hope that this work will help a broader array of people gain access to a process that may help unlock their potential.
By way of background, I met the Meetup organizer, Gaurav of SocioSquares, last autumn and he invited me to attend a Meetup. The first one I attended was on local SEO and taught me a few new things. After, Guarav asked me to present, and I spent the next few weeks considering topics where I might bring value. It occurred to me that I've been writing, advocating for, and implementing strategies for brands big and small for almost 15 years, and have learned a few things along the way through both successes and failures. I've come to view the creation of strategies as an exciting creative process - admittedly hard work - but fulfilling when you witness the emergence of ideas and synergies that no one would have dreamed of without the process.
Strategy Hacking is in memoriam of Muthuraman Jayaraman and Eric Nordin, both of whom contributed to this work with their stellar insight, laughter, and collaboration.
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