Before discussing this sensitive topic, I believe a disclaimer would put an ease on what I am writing and what you are reading here. This post is not to dismiss the importance of Confidentiality agreements of employees within corporates. Neither do I imply that you and I are encouraged to breach any corporates’ regulations and policies. Nor neither will I have any responsibilities for your actions, due to this post.
This piece of writing raises a simple question: “Is “strategy” a company’s secret? ”
Why asking this question?
I believe questioning the confidentiality of “strategy” will help us understand better about strategy. To me, it provokes many interesting thoughts. Firstly, what is considered to be a “strategy”? When should “strategy” be kept confidential? And can we copy the competitors’ strategy?
To begin, what is a strategy?
As simply put by Faris Yakob, “Strategy, as an idea, is simple. You have a goal you wish to achieve. You have finite resources that can be deployed in achieving it. Strategy is simply how.” The essence of strategy is TRADE-OFFS. There is no right or wrong strategy. There is just the most suitable strategy for an organization.
Strategy is about making good choices. Strategy is not a goal, but a route that leads the organization to the goal.
If every employee must know their companies’ goal, they should also be aware of the route they should take in order to achieve that goal. Everyone must move in the same direction to move the big ship to the right harbor. This is similarly applied to other stakeholders, including the consumers, who now more demand for corporates’ transparency.
I believe a strong (business/ brand/ creative/etc.) strategy should root from the core belief of the corporate and its working culture. A strong strategy is the one that can be immediately recalled by a junior employee when asked. A strong strategy should provide specific direction for every tactics and execution below. And I strongly believe, a strong strategy is a strategy that an outsider can define after seeing the execution.
When should “strategy” be kept confidential?
I would say “strategy” should be kept confidential before the launch period. Before launching, say, a new product launch campaign, the launching strategy should be kept as confidentiality, as competitors might have reactive moves that put your strategy a disadvantaged position.
However, after launching, the strategy is already revealed. What should be kept as secret then is the plan, the tactics, not the strategy anymore. Strategy is not a secret to be kept, but a well-drawn roadmap that inspires and influences the employees, the salesmen, the distributors, the consumers and all other stakeholders. If you don’t believe, search online for the business or brand strategy of big names, such as Apple, Nike, Google, Amazon, Starbucks, etc. There are even books of them sharing their strategy with the public.
And can strategy be copied?
I believe it can hardly be copied. And it is a silly thing to do so.
It goes back to the definition of strategy as “making choices that fit best”. Strategy relies much on the company’s strengths, weaknesses and culture itself. A strategy that is suitable for company A might be an absolute no for company B.
What is your point of view about this? Share it with me!