Overlooking Communications: Why Strategists Are Missing a Trick
By: Mark Leiter & Jeff Pundyk
Executives crafting strategy often miss a powerful trick — instead of making communications a top priority throughout the entire strategy development journey, they typically focus on communications only as they approach the final stages of their work.
This may have worked when things moved slower. With every passing year, however, the available “time to decision” is shrinking while executives are buried in a daily communications avalanche. Cutting through the clutter requires strategic content that is crisp, compelling and inspiring at every point in the strategy process and beyond.
As the lines between strategy and operations continue to blur in an accelerating world, communications all too often sits apart — considered the last mile between the strategy team and the broader world. Those strategists who invest more attention in communications throughout the process are dramatically more effective and efficient practitioners; they gain back precious time in a fast-moving world while raising their influence — and their strategy is far more likely to be well understood and well executed as a result.
And, if the strategic work at hand is grounded in robust analysis, creative leaps or logical reasoning — to name just three core tools of the trade — each underlying piece of the strategy puzzle lives or dies as a result of amazing or lackluster communications.
Strategic communications should be viewed as much more than that 100-page strategy presentation followed by an even longer appendix, or that annual shareholder letter distilling key aspects of the strategy for the broader world. Rather, it can help shape better strategic decisions, accelerate their execution, and more easily re-package the core thinking as thought leadership.
The real action in developing strategy revolves around the many discussions and debates that ultimately drive strategic decisions. Throughout, compelling content fuels the process — clarifying insights based on knowledge, consolidating strategic direction, and ultimately inspiring and aligning various stakeholders through implementation.
Those who think about strategy and communications holistically can more readily elevate team conversations, showcase new market insights, reframe debates that inspire new ideas, and gain faster and stronger alignment around important decisions. Most importantly, they recognize that every day presents an opportunity to create the “building blocks” that can both move the process forward and become the basis for thought leadership that supports the strategy.