The one-sentence summary

Thinking before you plan is vital. Strategists who don’t take time to think are just planners.

Can’t be bothered to read it? Listen to the 5-minute podcast.


  • This is a handbook explaining how to generate powerful strategies, and what the strategy tools are that you can use.
  • Strategy is all about shaping the future, and that requires a combination of thinking, planning and reacting to events that emerge along the way.
  • The crucial questions are:

What do we want to do?

What do we think is possible?

What do we need to do to achieve our goals?

When should we react to new opportunities and adapt plans?

  • Thinking before you plan is vital. Strategists who don’t take time to think are just planners.
  • Imaginative, open, playful, passionate thinking is required before the serious work of planning begins. This involves knowing where the grass really is greener.
  • Inspiration and insight can be drawn from looking forward, backwards, and outwards, which often means blending smart prediction with past experience and astute observation of what’s happening outside the company and the category.
  • Strategists need to know what stage their organisation, industry, products and services have reached. What crises have they survived? What will be next?


  • Your company is a collection of decisions. And that’s what strategy is all about. If a decision is strategic it will:

Get specific things done

Outmanoeuvre the competition

Be part of a strategic pattern

Fix the company’s position

Risk (or save) the company’s position

  • Survival is a priority, but growth is better. How has the company grown in the past? What can fuel it? Which markets and products could help?
  • Just doing what you did last year isn’t imaginative enough. Executive teams need to:

~ Find enough time to look at the bigger picture several times a year, with a talented facilitator.

~ Accelerate and deepen the strategy process by using many more people inside and outside the company.

  • Strategy can be a lot of intellectual and emotional fun. A great session will involve laughter.


  • Nothing – and the tool kit at the back is a great reference point if you are in a rut.