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Can you be strategic without strategy? Live from Iceland

BY mikeklein [caption id="attachment_1120" align="alignnone" width="720"]lighthouse This Icelandic lighthouse may remind us that strategy may be the lighthouse for action, but has internal communication become disconnected from strategy?[/caption]

One of my biggest concerns about the state of the internal communication profession is the extent to which it has become disengaged from, and even dismissive of, strategy.

So I scratched my head a little bit when I saw a piece from Katie Macaulay offering advice to aspiring communication pros on “how to be a strategic communicator.”

Don’t get me wrong.  Katie offers solid advice.

This isn’t surprising because Katie is a true pro, a published author, and a smart practitioner.

But there was very little about strategy in her advice.  A lot about how to talk with and listen to business people, how to get good information, how to take ownership of communication planning, and how to demonstrate your value to decision-makers.

But is this the stuff of strategy? 

For me, strategy is about evaluating potential outcomes, choosing to pursue them, taking ownership of them, defining the most efficient and effective paths to victory.

More to the point, it is about deciding what to do, and what not to do.  Who to engage, and who to leave alone.  What words to use, introduce, and avoid. Whether to broadcast, or rely on influence and informal networks.

Much of today’s internal comms is tactical. That’s because strategy is either implicit (based on “this is the way we communicate around here”) or it’s been pre-specified by clients or management before internal communicators get their hands on a task.

For me, that Katie’s advice for an aspiring “strategic communicator” emphasizes a lot of things other than “strategy” is troubling, not because it’s wrong, but because it all-too-accurately reflects our current professional predicament, where strategy is largely out of our hands.

Want to rediscover strategy and “change the terms?”

Bringing the strategy back to strategic internal communication requires the ability to select and prioritize audiences and actions.  To start the ball rolling, download my influencers guide, here.

Live from Iceland

A week of short blog posts from Iceland.  Sponsored by Iceland by Helgastina, which offers personal travel planning to this unforgettable place.

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2 thoughts on “Can you be strategic without strategy? Live from Iceland”

  1. So true Michael. What is always interesting is the resistance you get when trying to introduce the strategic process to any initiative. It’s like turning around a big ship. With both previous employers and clients, you hear a lot of “we don’t have time for strategy” or “this is the way we’ve always done it.” As a consultant, the first time I work with a client I watch an initiative in action OR debrief a program that didn’t have the results leaders and communication pro’s hoped for. We use this as the foundation. We follow with a step forward asking the right questions and going through the research-strategy-design-launch-maintain process and then evaluate what went right. Eventually strategic thinking and focused action becomes turn key and actually makes the the whole process faster and more effective. It feels like magic. It’s frustrating to manage through the change but fun to see when you finally get there.

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