During some business travel this week, I was confronted twice by messages telling me what's NOT strategy.
HOPE: The book, Hope Is Not a Strategy: The 6 Keys to Winning the Complex Sale, is written by Rick Page. I like the fact that it focuses on the complex sale. In business to business, most transactions are a considered purchase. Example: no one runs out and buys 13 jet engines on a lark. There are no frequent buyer programs for $250,000 machine tools or $500,000 enterprise software solutions.
A mentor distinguished consumer purchases from business to business purchases like this: "Buying the wrong toothpaste leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Making the wrong business to business purchase can cost you your job." And that's just one reason why these sales are complex.
SIZE: Fast Company's September cover story discusses the relationship between company size and strategy. Rather than growing through acquisition, companies should be profiting through innovation. Leviathan General Electric is betting on innovation to keep its far-flung businesses running smooth. Brand Titan P&G is also hoping innovation will allow it to respond more quickly, capitalizing on opportunities. Both offer exciting tests of Fast Company's theory. Can the largest companies profit through innovation despite their size?
Management guru Peter Drucker notes, "Growth without profit is cancer." This applies to Fast Company's article. When size is a strategy, you're cruising for a bruising. Just ask Worldcom, Tyco, Adelphia and Enron. Bigger is not always better.
So, if the above are NOT strategy. What in the heck IS it?
PRSA's Accreditation Guide offers up the following operational definition of Strategy: A general, well-thought out tactical plan. Strategies do not indicate specific actions to achieve objectives. There can be multiple strategies for each objective.
I consider strategy the bigger picture. Strategy makes sure your tactics are working together to achieve your program's specific, measurable objectives and overall goal. Strategy consists of the Xs and Os in the playbook that make sure your client wins the game.
Next On SPR: Phil Gomes and I have been kicking around the thought leadership strategy and how CEO as rock star, while breathing its last gasp, is a poor imitator of thought leadership. Perhaps that is why one strategy is dying and one is not?
Tom Murphy and I have been discussing marketing strategy as it pertains to the anniversary of 9/11. Our thoughts are that, depending on who your client is, less is more. Now it seems even politics is taking a cue from marketers like GM and Pepsi.
More to come on both of these concepts.