I was assigned to a project with people I had never worked with before. We met around a conference table, made some introductions, and began assigning responsibilities. Nothing was out of the ordinary except I started noticing that nearly everyone’s role, no matter the person’s official title, included “strategy.” And it meant something different for each person. By the end of the meeting, I had heard so many uses of “strategy” that I no longer understood its meaning.
I’ve since had time and space to recognize the thread that everyone’s “strategy” shared. It was the process of taking disparate information and condensing it into a goal. Within this definition, “strategy” adds depth and intelligence to a project, no matter its industry. A strategic HR Professional uses “strategy” to understand an existing team’s personalities and recruit employees with skills that will bring the team’s capabilities to the next level. A strategic mother understands the values she wants to instill in her child and plans a life around them to ensure it.
“Strategy,” according to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is “a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time.” It is a necessary preparation for success and thus tempting to overuse it. Unfortunately the word loses meaning when overextended, and its value diminishes.
A solution is to strive to define one’s “strategy.” I challenge myself and others to take a break from the term. Next time I catch myself using the word, I’m going to define it and help others and myself understand the work I do.