Simon Gregory

the future of planning

Strategy is never for its own sake

Strategists must remain generous if they are to retain their use, says BBH's joint chief strategy officer

By simon gregory

I can’t remember how many new dawns, revolutions, and crises I’ve survived in the last couple of decades. Each one causes the same mild existential panic in the role and need of agencies, advertising, brainstorms, channels, and, in my case, strategists.

Somehow, I’m still here. And so are strategists.

I’d like to think this boils down to the strategy department following one simple belief: generosity.

We spend our day surrounded with brilliant undercover strategists, all brilliant thinkers and inspiring storytellers but with different titles. The best clients bring vision and structure to their businesses, the best account handlers guide creativity and effectiveness, and the best creatives do it all with fewer words.

Hypothetically speaking, if we had to kill a department tomorrow, I’d kill strategy.

This may sound like a depressing view but, in contrast, it’s very liberating. Less focus on strategy means more focus on helping everyone else. Protecting and promoting creatives and their ideas. Giving account handlers the rigour and ammunition to ‘go into bat’. Giving clients the confidence that they’re making the right decisions.

Strategy is never for its own sake it is always for others.

Remembering this puts the emphasis on being useful, helpful and tangible. And, in doing so, it protects the discipline from the trends and fillips of a category at the mercy of uncontrollable forces.

It’s rare that my Northern soul encourages positivity, but I genuinely believe that if strategists stay generous, strategy will always have an important role.

Simon Gregory is joint chief strategy Officer at BBH


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