Let’s Reinvent Strategy

Strategy struggles to explain the modern era. It’s ripe for disruption.

While strategy excels at the physical — the pricing of potato chips and the positioning of battleships — it struggles to explain the modern era where hard hard goods are soft services and the value of assets are more often defined by intangibles. We already roared through the information age and now, just as the knowledge economy takes root, the creative economy is upon us. It is a world centered on brand, reputation, credibility, trust, values and other maddeningly amorphous concepts. These are the drivers of value — just ask Coke, Apple, the NFL and the GOP.

To manage these new assets demands a new understanding of strategy. In business, it is 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 been given principles, rules and lists to remember, but no frameworks by which to manage and measure strategy, no complete ontologies that organize and fully describe it. We have operated like chemists without a periodic table, like biologists without a phylogenetic tree or, more simply, like musicians without a notation system. We have played it by ear.

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, activists and propagandists, 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 drivers of every market and that, accordingly, we will require a framework and a standard by which to manage them.

We are overdue for a system that informs the stewards of intangible assets and the analysts that decode their clever work. Our answer is a definitive ontology we call The Playmaker Influence System.  It is supported by a tested ontology we call The Taxonomy of Influence.  And it is comprised by the first fully described set of irreducibly unique units of influence, 23 Influence Strategies…or what we call plays.