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The Strategy Trap

Ever wonder why you’ve had more strategy conversations than you can count, but not a single strategist discussion you can remember?

Nor are you alone. Most individuals and organizations focus on strategy, not strategists.

Welcome to the strategy trap.

The strategy trap is easy to explain but hard to escape. It operates by prioritizing strategy and deprioritizing the strategist. Translation: Strategy is the rock star that gets idolized, strategists are the roadies that get ignored.

Skeptical? When was the last time you read a book on strategists, not strategy? When was the last time your organization invested in strategists, not strategy? How many academic programs center on strategists, not strategy?

Year after year, strategists get downplayed. And it’s a short trip from downplayed to deprioritized. When strategists are neglected, their marginalization is normalized. Their absence becomes the extent of their presence.

That’s why the strategy trap is so insidious. It not only prioritizes strategy over the strategist but it also makes the strategist seem irrelevant.

The bottom line: Strategy is all about strategy. It breathes its own exhaust.

Strategy has made a career out of ignoring the strategist.

But here’s the breakthrough insight: Things don’t have to be this way.


Every individual and organization has a clear-cut choice to make. Are you going to focus on strategy or strategists?

In choosing strategy, the world remains much the same. And that may be desirable if you’re launching one wildly successful strategy after another. But the data suggest otherwise. Research shows a vast majority of strategies fail to achieve their desired results.

What other workflow could fail more often than it succeeds and still hold your organization’s perpetual allegiance?

In choosing strategists, the world unfolds in a radically different way. You see strategists as the upstream cause. And you see strategy as the downstream effect. You therefore choose to push upstream to focus, first and always, on strategists.

All strategy then flows from there.

In a strategist-driven world, the solution is strikingly simple: The best way to generate more and better strategies is to cultivate more and better strategists. Full stop.