It seems to me that almost all agencies and consultancies working as suppliers to ‘real’ brands and companies have been loading up with strategists of late. And particularly with online and digital strategists.
People that I look upon as good and solid designers, developers, architects, creators and project managers increasingly refer to themselves as ‘strategists’.
It must be very confusing for customers of these agencies. And it must be complicated because the customer might ask for a strategy but expect an action plan, or a policy, or a guideline. The strategists need to understand the differences between all of these.
For me, a strategist is someone that without preparation can understand when someone talks about strategic or tactical matters, and also sequentially can explain the main implications and consequences of given decisions from all perspectives. A strategist always looks at everything from all possible aspects.
I think that an excellent way to look at who’s a strategist and who’s not is to ask them if they usually make executives, owners, and corporate boards change direction or go in the same direction based on their advice, best practice, facts & figures, guidance and enlightenment.
I believe that most people that refer to themselves as strategists use that expression to give themselves and their roles more power. But the reality is that some are capable of being a strategist, and some are not.
The strategist needs to think logically, conceptually and be able to create something from ‘nothing’. A strategist must think about and focus on the future and adapt the wished-for future state into the subsequent way for the company or the brand to get there. The strategist needs to be skilled and able to take intellectual leaps of faith that include all internal and external implications … with confidence.
If you are a brand or company about to hire a strategic agency or strategist to help you create your strategy, there is one thing you must do—make sure that the strategists involved are capable of convincing your top management to change direction or to walk in the same direction. That is what a strategist’s role is! They must be able to make it all happen.
What are your thoughts on who’s a strategist and who’s not?