Are you the Special One ?

Strategy is an overused word.  Frequently mixed up with tactics.  I’ve only ever come across one person who calls himself a tactician in the ad trade and that’s Dave Trott in his brilliant book Predatory Thinking. Lets face it that’s not bad company to be in.


In Good Strategy Bad Strategy author Richard Rumelt defines strategy as  discovering the “critical factors in a situation” and focussing resource to deal with them.  His illustration is easy to visualise.  Nelson, at Trafalgar, overcoming the enemy, who outnumbered the English by a huge factor, by using his ships to break through the line of Franco-Spanish fleet and defeat them.  “Despite the roar of voices wanting to equate strategy with ambition, leadership, vision, planning or the economic logic of competition, strategy is none of these.”


In Alastair Campbell’s new book “Winners” Jose Mourinho gives his definition of strategy versus tactics.  Its somewhat contrary to the idea that strategy is a broad, longterm over-encompassing idea under which tactics sit to be deployed in the short term.  He says “The tactics are the model, the principles…. when the keeper has the ball, does he go short or long ?  When the other team has the ball in midfield where do our players go ? … tactics are the DNA of the team… strategy is when you do something for a certain game.”


He goes on to criticise England boss Roy Hodgson for his failure to change strategy in the last world cup game versus Uruguay.  Hodgson made two substitutions at 1-0 down. The subs weren’t sent to play a different role and they didn’t change the course of the game.  England were playing with 4 at the back and losing 1-0.  To at least get a draw Mourinho would have put an extra man in midfield/attack and run with just 3 in defence.  This at the very least would force the opposition to have to react to a change in strategy.


We are building the opportunity for real time course correction into communications plans as the exploitation of real time big data allows us to change what we do mid campaign as opposed to delivering a plan which has been set in stone for months (and hanging on for a post campaign analysis at the traditional point when all the media information is available.)  We are planning for outcomes in business results not media rating delivery.  The obvious thing to do when we course correct is to stick to the same strategy and just refresh the plan with a minor adaption of the same plan.  As Mourinho points out a bigger opportunity lies in switching strategy to significantly over power the competition.


So next time the opportunity comes up for real time course correction ask yourself : are you Hodgson or are you the Special One ?




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