Let’s talk about strategy: what it is, why it matters and how to do it well – Sophie Dennis

Peter Drucker once observed: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all”. Strategy is how you avoid this. A sound strategy tells you where you are going, and sets out a high-level, achievable plan to get there. It’s how you make sure anyone can decide what the right things are to work on.

Yet bad strategy documents abound: massive tomes, years in the making (during which the organisation has continued to do what it perhaps should not have been doing at all), full of platitudes, unattainable visions, or uninspiring lists of mundane tactical objectives. Documents that sit in draws, routinely ignored. It makes it easy to pooh-pooh strategy, dismissing it with another Drucker aphorism “culture eats strategy for breakfast” or the mantras of “strategy is easy, tactics are hard” and “the strategy is delivery”.

Using real-world examples of successful discovery and strategy projects, we’ll explore a simple framework for understanding what makes a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ strategy. We’ll look at how you can be “more strategic” in your own work, identifying strategic opportunities, and getting the support you need to translate ideas into action. Culture may still eat strategy for breakfast, and implementation may still be the really hard part, but with a good strategy behind you you’ll have a lot more chance of succeeding.

This will be an interactive session, so come prepared to share your strategy challenges and – if you’re already “doing strategy” – your own tricks and tips. Topics we’ll aim to explore together are:

You should be able to apply what you learn whether you’re developing the overarching strategy for a whole company, for a particular product or service, or delivering a brand, content or user experience strategy.

Sophie Dennis

Sophie is a freelance consultant and coach. She helps organisations deliver better services to customers by putting user needs at the heart of their digital strategy, and also leads, coaches and mentors UX and agile teams. She’s led ambitious user research and discovery programmes, defined digital strategies for major public and third-sector organisations, and built high-performing teams able to deliver high-quality user-centred digital services at pace. Currently at NHS Digital, she has over 15 years’ experience working with multi-disciplinary teams on strategic content, design and development projects including Public Health England, Department for Work and Pensions, the National Trust, Land Registry, Bristol City Council, the University of Surrey, Jisc and the Office for National Statistics, and world-leading experience design agencies CX Partners and Nomensa.

Affiliation: Director & Co-Founder, Cayenne
Twitter: @sophiedennis