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To make things very simple – strategy is about solving our client’s business problems.  I love this because when we solve real problems for our clients, we are making a meaningful difference.

Some client problems are as direct as how to increase e-commerce sales, some problems are about growing market share with less budget, some problems are about customer acquisition or retention. The fun and sometimes the challenging part is - no two problems are the same.

While there is a process to strategy: 1) problem definition, 2) current state interrogation, 3) future state mapping, 4) ideation and imagination, 5) feasibility assessments and 6) ROI and Business calculations. But a lot of it comes down to a commitment to push until the right, useful solution is found.

Here are 5 insightful quotes that keep me focused when building strategies.

1. If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask”  Albert Einstein

I think this is a key reminder for all strategists. Based on the brief, based on our biases, we may think we understand the problem, but often times we are wrong. And if our understanding is wrong, then any solutions won’t be worth the pretty PowerPoint slides. Before jumping to answers, it is critical to sit with the question making sure that it can lead to a useful outcome. The answer is so much easier if we are asking the right question

2. "No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” – Voltaire

There is no giving up in strategy. In my experience there is always an answer, we just have to have the patience and discipline to work through options until we find it. But we will find it.

3. "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” – H.L. Mencken

There are also no short cuts in strategy. It doesn’t mean that everything should be over thought. Over thinking is a problem and it is wasteful. But this quote reminds me, when an answer immediately leaps to my mind, to challenge that answer and make sure that it isn’t simply the most convenient answer.

4. "There are not more than five primary colours, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen” – Sun Tzu

We can be biased to believe that every solution should be 100% original. But innovation isn’t always imagining the unimaginable idea. It often is the combination and integration of existing concepts, ideas, and technologies that enable an overlooked value. A good strategist is part an alchemist.

5. "A problem isn't finished just because you'vefound the right answer.” – Yoko Ogawa

We are not in the theory business. If I have come up with a smart innovative solution that can’t be implemented, because it is too costly or too complex, then it isn’t a good strategy. The right strategy is actionable.

That’s the commitment that we make for our clients, actionable strategies and solutions to real problems.

Mariya Sokolova Senior Strategist
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