26 Replies to “The “One Strategy” Myth”

  1. Great post, Geoff!

    My usage of terms such as goals, strategies, tactics, comes from my community organizing experience and aligns with yours, although understanding the difference is something I’ve seen confusion over across all types of organizations and people.

    Below is a simplified summary from ProPR that I like:
    Goals = the broad outcomesStrategies = the approaches you will takeObjectives = the measurable steps to achieve the strategiesTactics =  the tools you will useSource:  http://propr.ca/2006/goals-and-objectives-strategies-and-tactics/ 

  2. It doesn’t suck to map this out. Just like you can take a snapshot of a river and its tributaries (Google maps?), you can do the same with the corporate version of the same. Org charts already map a similar flow of operational functions and responsibilities. The exact same org chart can thus also show strategies emerging from every role, team and group, and follow them as they work their way towards a common macro superstrategy. Sometimes, putting the stuff to paper helps everyone make sense of the “bigger picture” and visualize how all the pieces fit.

    Good piece, as usual.

  3. Great post, Geoff!

    One approach I use when developing strategies is to categorize them to provide operational clarity. In a program there would be a series of strategies including process strategies, property strategies, community strategies, service strategies, communication strategies, and so on. It helps by giving the program pillars, and ensures everyone understands what each strategy is designed to impact.

    1. Wow, that is a lot of strategies!  I tend to use less formal strategies in running Zoetica, but we are migrating toward processes. Thanks for sharing your approach!

    2. Wow, that is a lot of strategies!  I tend to use less formal strategies in running Zoetica, but we are migrating toward processes. Thanks for sharing your approach!

  4. Geoff – Another homer!

    One thing I kept going back to in my mind as I read your post was the importance of listening to all communities that an org serves (or belongs to). If your strategy is to become the “goto” source for best practices within a specific industry, then only listening will tell you how to get there.

    Even in the days of Mad Men, research came before strategy. Listening is research.

  5. One strategy is a myth. Similar to your post, I have always viewed the issues as a company has one broad goal and developes mulitple strategies to meet the goal — strategic direction with mulitple strategies based on knowledge of the target market. 

    1. You got it, a goal is not a strategy and a strategy is not a goal. Well said, boss!

  6. I like your posts because they make me think and this one is no exception. I think companies need a unified set of business goals to strive for. And department-specific objectives leading up to those overall goals. So that’s first.

    Second, companies do need an integrated strategy. Or they need to at least talk and think in that manner so leadership sees the value of an integrated approach and doesn’t just think in silo strategies. From there, I was semi-convinced on a recent post I wrote and now more convinced that sub-strategies or approches for different disciplines make sense. However, still believe we have to talk in integrated terms to show the strategic business value communicators can provide. Sort of a matter of semantics, but an important one IMO. You?

    1. Another great post on strategy, Geoff. That’s what I love so much about your blog. Your writing differentiates between goals and objectives as well as strategies and tactics and gets us thinking… clearly and strategically. There is an amazing amount of muddy thinking out there and so many “experts” who don’t seem to know they’re using the terms incorrectly (and presumably can’t plan, execute, and measure a communications campaign either).

      P.S. I am with Justin Goldsborough on the importance of integrated marketing communications, as he suggests, probably a matter of semantics.

      1. Thank you, Monica. Integration is important, so is mastery of specific smaller initiatives. It’s the balancing act.  And thank you for the compliment. Great to see you today at Nonprofit 2.0!

        1. I FINALLY got my copy of Welcome to the Fifth Estate today!!! Fantastic book! The strategy chapter, especially page 80, says it all (I read it first). Can’t wait to read the rest of the book.

    2. We know integration works.  Just like a set of pliers can help you fasten a bolt in conjunction with a screwdriver.  At the same time, some times things work towards the same goal, but not hand in hand.  They need to work tangentially so as not to hurt an effort, but they can be separate initiatives. This to me is particularly true of larger, more sophisticated campaigns and corporate marketing initiatives.  Balance is not easy.

  7. Hi Geoff,

    You make an excellent point. It’s true that when you have an umbrella organization that arches over many other sub-divisions, having one strategy is probably a myth, as you say. I really like your analogy that compares this phenomenon to flowing water.

    However, I will toss in that while it might not be one strategy, there are certain branding and/or marketing characteristics that are stronger if they are woven through all of those sub-divisions. For example, GE once upon a time had the tagline, “We bring good things to life.” Using that line across several different brands would not have been a bad thing (I’m not honestly sure if they did this or not, but I don’t recollect hearing anything about it other than for their lighting branch).

    To some extent, then, I think that having a plan, if not a strategy, on how or whether you will weave various sub-divisions together is essential. You certainly don’t want to send mixed signals, and you don’t want one sub-division sending out messages that would be counter to other parts of the company.

    Great post!

    1. Thanks, Margie.  Certainly as discussed int he post and the comments, everything works better integrated with common goals in mind, from a communications strategy perspective.

      I do want to point out that a branding strategy is just a subset of an organization’s larger strategy. It is not the ultimate compass…

      Thanks for coming by today!

  8. Who the heck is saying organizations have only one strategy?! One vision? Yes. One mission? Sure. But one strategy? WTH? You know I’m a big fan of this thinking and of how water works together to move toward the sea. Bravo!

    1. Yes!  LOL, but I will not name names. I get into too much trouble every time I do that.

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