Strategy is ripe for reinvention. For the better part of a century, strategy has grown up in the industrial age, but it’s struggling to shift into the modern era.
Why? Because strategy as we know it is about the management of tangible assets — hard goods to make and to market.
But the world has changed. As quickly as we’ve entered the information society we are already passing through what many call the knowledge society and are now confronting a new era marked by creativity. We are no longer concerned just with physical things, like steel, ships and tortilla chips. Our world today is centered on brand, reputation, credibility, trust, values and other maddeningly amorphous concepts. These are the drivers of value — just ask Coke, Apple, Lady Gaga and Barack Obama.
To manage these new assets demands a new generation of strategy. In business, it is lately called Nonmarket Strategy, thanks to David Bach and David Allen. In military, it is called Nonkinetics, a product of soft-power advocates designed to win hearts and minds over stateless competitors. And where intangibles are best understood– in communications, social media, marketing, sales and politics — we have proposed Influence Strategy as the underlying discipline.
What’s missing — then and now — is a clear and clean articulation of strategy as a system. From Sun Tzu to Michael Porter, we have enjoyed so many principles, rules and lists, but no frameworks by which to manage and measure strategy, no complete ontologies. We have operated like chemists without a periodic table, like biologists without a phylogenetic tree or, more simply, like musicians without a notation system.
So to bring full meaning and maturity to the strategy of intangibles requires a rigorous inspection and organization of the work of communicators, social media managers, marketers, salespeople, politicos and military I/O officers, among others. It requires both the development of a system and the discovery of the simplest building blocks of influence. And it requires a basic determination to sharpen the stubbornly blurred lines of social science.
Whether we operate in the vestiges of the information economy, the girth of the knowledge society, or the beginnings of a creative renaissance, we know today that influence and strategy are central drivers of marketplaces and that, accordingly, we will require a system and a standard by which to manage them.
We are overdue for a system that is tuned for the stewards of intangible assets. Our answer is a definitive ontology we call The Playmaker Influence Decision System. It’s supported by a taxonomy we call The Standard Table of Influence. And it’s comprised by the first fully described set of irreducibly unique units of influence, 24 Influence Strategies…or what we call plays.