Thanks to the recommendation from Kyle Hughes, at the top of this year's reading list was 'Winners' by Alastair Campbell. I could spend a lot of time sharing my favourite quotes from the number of inspiring public figures featured in the book about their mindset behind what it takes to be successful in their field. I want to focus however on Alistair Campbell's approach to strategy.
Campbell, a British journalist, author, broadcaster, political aide and best known for his work as Tony Blair's Spokesman and Campaign Director (1994–1997) explains that the simplest way to view strategy is to consider the following 3 letters - OST:
I have found this framework an effective format for planning my 2018 objectives across the accounts I work with at Passle.
O for Objective
'Winning' requires a definition. The objective should be a straightforward target of where you want to get to and/or what you want to achieve. For example this could be a target revenue from closing an opportunity; moving a deal along from Proof of Concept to a multiyear subscription; or introducing a new suite of capabilities to an existing client.
It is important that you should easily be able to define whether you have or have not achieved your target. Making sure your account objectives are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) will keep you on the right track.
S for Strategy
As Campbell iterates: "absolute clarity of thinking is required" when putting your strategy in place. I think of strategy in the context of painting the bigger picture. This is the added value - what people invest in when acquiring your services and what excites them about working with you. Company slogans will often be close to summarising this for you but you need to make them account-specific.
T for Tactics
This is the list of events, actions, and activities that are going to get you to your goal. Whilst your objectives and strategies are not going to change, your tactics can be flexible around the requirements of the account. Each week at Passle we write down our 'leading indicators' which are the tasks we are going to complete, moving the needle toward achieving the objective.
An easy mistake is to focus on your 'lagging indicators' which to an extent are out of your control. For example in the 1997 UK Election the Labour Party had the clear objective: to "win". Their strategy "New Labour, New Britain" defined the approach. The tactics however are what make the plan a reality.
By putting together a thorough account plan, you are accountable to executing the tasks with the confidence that these series of events will result in a successful outcome.
Great example below of The Labour Party's 1997 election OST:
OST is my first rule: objective, strategy, tactics. Get these the wrong way around and you are in trouble. It is not a strategy unless it is written down.