I learn much from reading famous war strategists, especially Sun Tzu. The opening of “The Art of War” clearly tells us that strategy is not a skill we are born with, but one we must learn and study to overcome life´s constant challenges.
The whole point of a strategy is to control the elements that we´ve created to reach our goals, not react to them as they come. Strategy also allows for measurement of results, something that is far more obvious in war than in today´s virtual arena.
If only we could predict the future, well, strategy would be useless. It´s in the unknown horizon that we apply these learned skills to help us achieve the best, most positive results. I like the sound of that, but even in the best strategies, we must make some room for the unpredictable. Because the truth of the matter is, we have absolutely no control over anything. Control is, sadly, an illusion.
Nevertheless, as a strategist myself, I can foresee possible outcomes to a situation and work on a plan that will make it easier for everyone to stay on target. Something like looking at the forest and not the tree. It’s the ability to see the big picture, the macro-view if you will, that allows for the right approach. Studying the battlefield from the top of the hill will always yield an exact evaluation.
What perhaps is not clear to many when developing a communication strategy, is the need to go back to the beginning – every time. Revisiting the company´s mission and goals will make your strategic plan the more coherent and successful. All objectives must align to the same end.
Here are the five elements essential to a successful strategy according to Sun Tzu:
- The Mission: Obvious. So obvious it´s frequently overlooked.
- The Climate: Try a SWOT analysis. You need to analyze your situation from all fronts.
- The Ground: It defines the rules of engagement and your place in the game.
- The Leadership: You need decision makers and inspiring individuals to take you across the strategic arena.
- The Methods: These are the skills you master that make your strategy possible.
“The Art of War” was written between 476–221 BC and it´s still relevant today. Learning about history is without a doubt the fastest way to acquire the strategic vision. Not to say tremendous fun.