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Image courtesy of Liquidrosephotography

Monday this saw the IPA Strategy Group’s fast strategy conference here in London.

All in all a rather splendid occasion.

The high point was the victory of the marvellous Richard Storey in a live head to head fast strategy challenge from the UK Government on Dog Registration. It was a good reminder, if anyone needed it, that Richard is one of the most accomplished creative strategists in adland. The Planning for Good team (Mark Earls, Jon Leech, Ian Tait and Chris Forrest) came second and were outstanding, if not quite as sharp as Richard’s M&C team (here is the wiki they built that morning to help them). CHI was rather out-classed and brought up the rear.

Anyway, the event made me think about my top tips for getting to strategy fast so I thought I’d share them with you. I’ve done 17 since it seems such an unfashionable number. Some stuff will be familiar to regular readers – but when you are creating fast strategy it doesn’t do to reinvent the wheel.


1. Time is not the problem in creating strategy, ideas are. If you can find an idea the time will find itself.
2. Ideas first, facts second. Facts only make sense in the light of an idea.
3. There are only two criteria for judging your creative strategies – are they simple and are they interesting.
4. It is vital to be interesting, it is merely important to be right.
5. If you look in the same place as everyone else you will never find something interesting, no matter how clever you are.
6. Every great solution comes from a great problem. Make sure you understand the problem behind the problem that you are trying to solve.
7. Anything and everything can help you. Take a walk and think about how every shop, sign, ad, conversation and observation might help you solve the problem.
8. Be prepared. Keeping reading the weird shit.
9. Keep your focus on finding out the things you didn’t know you didn’t know.
10. Call upon your latent strategies, the strategies that you have always wanted to use but have never had the chance.
11. Remember that the stale strategic idea of one category is the ground breaking step forward in another.
12. Jam with other people, online or face to face. But don’t engage that trojan horse of mediocrity, the brainstorm.
13. Ask yourself what the brand’s position might be about the something we all care about.
14. A position is an opinion. We live in an age of conversation and opinions are the lifeblood of all conversations.
15. Plan from within. How do you feel about the brand, category or the wider world? How do you explain your own behaviour? You are not unrepresentative, you live in the same brand landscape as everyone else.
16. Trust your instinct – its the most truthful resource you have.
17. Fast strategy is more about decisiveness than speed. Often we need strategic courage more than haste.

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