Webster’s defines the word “strategy” in several ways, two of which apply specifically to communication:
- A careful plan or method
- The art of devising or employing plans toward a goal
The bolding above is mine. I draw attention to it because having a strategy doesn’t do anything for you. It’s what you do with that strategy that counts. It’s about taking action.
When we do strategy work with clients, our intent is to arm them with a decision-making tool. A written strategy won’t do them any good if it sits on a shelf collecting dust. But, a strategy turned into a decision device can have long-term positive impact on an organization.
Strategy as a system
The word “system” is listed by Webster’s as a synonym for “strategy.” Not all of “strategy’s” synonyms reflect movement, flow, or action the way “system” does. If more communicators viewed strategy as an opportunity for movement, action, or decisive decision-making, we’d be viewed as a more strategic function.
Think of strategy as a means to an end. What must we do to accomplish the important goal? More importantly, how will our strategy help us continue to make good decisions toward that goal? Are we focused on the right goal(s)?
This demands we think about business processes, including those related to actual implementation. Strategy should guide decisions at the front end, through implementation to measurement and refinement.
Using strategy to prioritize effort
A well-designed strategy can also serve to help prioritize workload for a communication team. When you need to push back on executives whose requests aren’t aligned with business strategy it helps to have a clear decision process.
Using a ranking or rating system tied to business strategy, you can quickly create a numeric prioritization for every request. Instead of team members picking off less important projects being pushed by a squeaky wheel, they know what is important to tackle next.
Want more details?
Over the next month you have three opportunities to learn more about this specific topic as I’ll be teaching about it at all of the following events:
- IABC Southern Region Conference, Nashville, Oct. 17-19
- ALI’s Digital Workplace & Intranet Summit, Washington, DC, Oct. 23-25
- IABC Heritage Region Conference, Richmond, Virginia, Nov. 12-13
Note that I’ll be using my method to help you connect business strategy to strategy for intranets and digital workplaces. However, you can use this method for any strategy. I hope to see you at one of these events.