“Strategy WIP” Workshop Recap

Strategy is risk for a reason.

Last week we had a rad session with Nathan Adkisson, Dir. of Strategy & Associate Creative Direction at Local Projects. We discussed what “strategy” even means, how to approach it, and had the pleasure of watching one of our organizers and fellow strategist Darien sweat as he opened up his work-in-progress (and his heart) for us all to rip into. Bravo Darien.

For those of you who were there and those who weren’t, here’s a recap what we learned, ways to dive deeper and how to run with it.


Best Bites — takeaways paraphrased, quoted and expounded upon

  • “Strategy is risk for a reason”: Nathan’s definition of strategy is risk for a reason. Often clients don’t want to take risks, and instead it’s your job to post-rationalize something that’s already been developed. But, you can fight this by better defining what strategy is, why you do it and educating your clients and colleagues.
  • “Artificial certainty is the enemy”: There is no right answer when it comes to strategy and we have to resist the temptation to buy into that way of thinking. We do research to build an argument for risk. If you think there is a silver bullet, you’re lying to yourself. Then again, “people in this industry spend a lot of time lying to themselves.”
  • Quote to steal: “Most companies don’t understand what constitutes strategy…they’re reluctant to make hard calls because they involve business and personal risk.” — A.G. Lafley, former CEO of Proctor & Gamble

Go Deeper — keep the learning going

  • Darien’s work-in-progress ignited a furious debate about Normcore. Only in a room of strategists would this be such a divisive subject. Someone brought up K-Hole’s “trend report” on it . But is Normcore even real? Give it a read, ask your mom what she thinks.
  • Books by agency strategists are great, but get out of the bubble and read a book by a client. As Nathan said, quoting the guy who ran P&G makes your strategist talk sound much more legit.
  • The insight that inspired Local Project’s work with the Cleveland Art Museum was the harsh truth that “In general, we prefer people who look like us” and it seems to be as true in dating as in is with dogs. Read more about it, but don’t date your dog.

Run With It — do something new

  • Think about your own definition of strategy. Write it down and start educating the people you work with. If you develop something you like and want to share please email us or comment below!