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What does strategy mean?

Words are imprecise.

Frances told her boss

I want to work on more “strategic” projects.

Her boss asked her to create a strategy for bringing suppliers up-to-date with some policy changes.

Frances wasn’t happy.

Turns out Frances had a specific definition of “strategic”, and it wasn’t

strategic = make strategy

It was

strategic = a project where I interface with senior managers and decision-makers.

Ask any room to give you 5 synonyms for strategy and they’ll give you words which have a lot in common, and every one of them will have a different view of it (words like Learning, Change, but also Big picture…). Just check out the thesaurus to see some more.

So it’s worth checking in with people just what they mean by strategy. You need to ask some good questions. And specifically the simple question

When you say “strategic” what do you mean?

How do you mean “strategic”

Can you give me an example of what you mean by “strategy”?

What would a “strategic project” look like, sound like, feel like? How would you know it was “strategic”?

Language is so imprecise. So I love this Information is Beautiful chart which puts words we use to describe ideas onto a four quadrant grid (function to dysfunctional, good to poor conceptual structure).

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