Why is “Strategy” being left out?

All companies, no matter how big or small, now have to think like publishers. Not only has media, products and consumer behaviour changed, but also the business model has evolved drastically over the last decades and continues to change.

Many people are aware of this, but many businesses still fail. Why? It’s a strategy and communication gap and the following business case illustrates the gap between employees.

When I worked at Adidas Headquarters, I was assigned to design the user experience of a new Adidas global service. The project had already been in development for a year when I joined the team, but there was still no prototype or even a visual design output. Everyone on the team was still working on finalizing a service concept. Eventually the team couldn’t bring the service to the market and the project was completely killed by overspending.

I saw the team developing a very clear “strategy,” but their strategy was merely tactics: action ideas such as persona & user insight, sales campaign ideas, content details and so on. There was no single clarified a roadmap to detail the required human resources and team structure. The team kept driving (working) on an unclear roadmap. Many employees have likely had a similar experience.


Strategy is when you have a plan to accomplish something. From beginning to end if you are prepared and focus on your plan that’s having a strategy

  1. A plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.
  2. The art of planning and directing overall military operations and movements.

So “Strategy” is a scenario as well as a roadmap where you go. But “Tactics” is

tac·tics /ˈtaktiks/

Tactics are the specific actions, sequences of actions, and schedules you use to fulfill your strategy. If you have more than one strategy you will have different tactics for each.

  1. An action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end.
  2. How you will achieve your strategy and when.

So “Tactics” is a detailed implementation of how you make it.

When we are asked to present a product idea, we often start by describing how we implement rather than how we move forward. This is in part because we do business from the inside out. We are supposed to start by clarifying how we make business with what product idea. We don’t start making a business plan without an idea that makes money. But when you execute, you need to know your goal(s), resources(s) and when different actions must be taken, in addition to having a handle on various management issues. Strategy is a plan to accomplish something. If you are prepared from beginning to end and focus on your plan, that’s having a strategy. It isn’t just a simple implementation of an idea; it’s a comprehensive plan with a very clear goal.

In the Adidas case, the service concept and idea were very clear. I knew what I needed to design and what we needed to develop. However, I didn’t know when the service was supposed to launch and when various milestones needed to be met – this was incredibly frustrating. Also, there was a huge knowledge gap between the teams. I was then only team member who came from the vendor side who understood detailed executions. This knowledge gap just kept growing bigger and bigger as the project progressed.


Why was the strategy left out? I have seen many similar cases around the world through my clients, no matter what industry or market, eventually the same tragedy plays out. The project runs out of cash, the team evaporates and the business fails. There is a myriad of individual reasons for failure, but the fault can usually be traced back to management and leadership gaps. I often see clients try to see the entire picture at once, but it’s too complex. Conversely, sometimes clients only examine and employ tactics without taking in the big picture. The business owner and management team shouldn’t be alone in knowing how to achieve a business goal; the whole team and entire company must understand the path to success.

In the dynamic environment of business, especially during the launch of new projects, there is a keen emphasis on proactively discussing ideas and tactics for information dissemination. This proactive approach is vital to effectively market and sell newly developed products or services; after all, effective communication is a cornerstone of sales success. Thus, professionals often prioritize discussions around communication methodologies early in the project lifecycle.

However, without a clear, strategic plan detailing who will sell the product, how, and when, even the most innovative ideas risk being sidelined by leadership or sparking disagreements among team members. These challenges are not uncommon and highlight the intricate dynamics of internal business processes.

For business communication to be truly effective, there must be a mutual understanding of the objectives and challenges at hand. This understanding isn’t just beneficial—it’s essential for fostering efficient operations and robust team collaboration.

Yet, many organizations falter when it comes to clearly distinguishing between strategy and tactics. This lack of clarity can obscure the company’s vision and objectives, leading to pervasive communication breakdowns across the workplace. It is imperative for organizations to articulate and disseminate their strategic goals clearly and compellingly to prevent these pitfalls and enhance internal communication. This strategic clarity will not only bridge communication gaps but also empower teams to drive business success more effectively.

As illustrated in the above diagram, when vision, information priorities, and clear goals are effectively shared among all stakeholders, the pathway towards achieving these objectives becomes more streamlined. This shared clarity enables everyone involved to strategize and navigate towards common goals more efficiently.

This distinction between strategy and tactics is crucial. Maintaining a strategic focus ensures that our efforts are goal-oriented and do not merely become means to an end. This principle is applicable not only in business settings but also in everyday life. By keeping strategy at the forefront, we ensure that our actions are always aligned with our broader objectives, leading to more coherent and successful outcomes.

Human communication is undergoing a fundamental change. Gaps between generational knowledge and communication styles are everywhere in the world. These gaps make formulating strategy difficult. However, we’ll probably never need to develop a perfect strategy at once. It’s more likely that we will develop strategy for each small step along the way so we can succeed in the coming months or weeks. Knowing which step we’re trying to accomplish will help us prioritize our business action plan.