If Strategy is Like Porn, Tactics is The Real Thing

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“What do you do?”
“Oh me? I work with strategy and… stuff”.

How many times a day do we hear that said? If you’re anything like me, you hear it quite a few times. And while I really appreciate the value of an excellent strategist, it’s really a misused term. A lot of times the word “strategist” seems to be used for people who have a hard time converting ideas into reality, and for that reason prefer to stay in the world of the abstract. If you ask me, there is too much dead strategy in the world, strategy merely describing your fantasy. We need more action.

What is one of the world’s most scarce resources however are excellent tactical people. I don’t talk about production staff now (though important as well), but about people who can take abstract strategic concepts and break them down into concrete actions that actually deliver on the strategies. There are a lot of strategy documents laying around with abstract ideas that serve more as a wish list to Santa than as an actual plan.

So how do you find awesome tactical people? Look for how to-posts! People blogging about how to actually implement stuff are often doers. And if you see that strategic understanding in what you read, reach for your checkbook. These guys are rare.

We have a guy like that in the Honesty partner team. Jesper Åström, who today has the somewhat useless title Digital Director (title being useless, not the role), is a tactical mastermind. He can draw up implementation plans of the most amazing sizes, creating 100-page presentations that actually commit you to action, not to philosophical fluff. And sure enough, Jesper’s blog is social media tutorial heavy. Read it. It’s the best investment you’ll make in a while.

Now all I have to do is to figure out a title for him that actually makes sense. Online Tactical Officer? Tactical Mastermind? Awesome Tactical Dude? Man I hate titles.

8 Responses to "If Strategy is Like Porn, Tactics is The Real Thing"
  1. Thnx Walt. Appreciate your friendly words a lot. I think tactics should start with complicating the hell out of something, then go iPod on it, to make the experience of it into a “one button sensation”. I really think we should create a round table in Sweden where we discuss tactics between agencies. The better we all are, the better we do for our clients, the better their results (the more money they spend, and the more freedom we get to create). Martin Lindwall (then Cohne&Wolfe) and I created a society like this in the PR industry and I think that it would be beneficial for our industry as well.

  2. ydring says:

    On point. Good stuff!
    The talented people at 37signals talks a lot about this in their latest book Rework. Worth a read.

  3. Titles are useless, unless you've got a complete vertical organization – which does'nt feel “future” at all.

  4. Thank you for solving our problem. :) titles are still useful for the “now” though i believe.

  5. Matthieu Hartig says:

    “go iPod on it” !! love it. i might use this expression a lot in the coming weeks.
    Of course, i'll tell people i read it first here. Redde Caesari quae sunt Caesaris, as my old latin teacher used to say, i a pre-iPod era.
    W's definiton of an “awesome tactical dude” is my idea of what a real planner should be. Because a planner's role is not just writing strategies or pre-digesting the job of the creatives. Or maybe should find a new name for that position… pfff. titles… *sigh*
    Anyway, a discussion forum about tactics and implementing strategies is an interesting idea. Count me in.

  6. I like the idea Jesper; but I'm not convinced that a branch-based round table is the panacea needed. Ok, it might be a step in the right direction – but many of the problems we face daily are due to the walls that exist between the various players (including clients) in our digital world – as well as the way in which knowledge and understanding is so unevenly spread amongst the various silos.

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About the Blog

This blog is written by Walter Naeslund and has been around since 2007. The blog is about the journey of starting an advertising agency and a sneak peek behind the scenes of what goes on at the Honesty HQ in SoFo, Södermalm. It is also a blog about communication & technology. The blog has gathered almost a thousand posts over the years with several longer and shorter breaks. Welcome and enjoy.
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