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Strategists must become entrepreneurs

News, 02 September 2016

LONDON: Strategists have established an important position within agencies but their future role will be very different – moving beyond communications to embrace "brand entrepreneurship", a leading industry figure has argued.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, Dom Boyd, Group Head of Strategy at adam&eveDDB, highlights the changes that threaten the future of strategists and warns that "it's time for planning to adapt again".

Central to these changes is digital disruption, leading to a fragmentation of skillsets and strategy "becoming structurally divorced from the biggest factors influencing human behaviour".

In addition, the commercial context in which strategists operate is fundamentally changing, as clients face challenges from new outlier competitors.

"Strategy must change with the times by focusing on where it can add the most value," Boyd says, "by focusing on turning human and cultural insight into inventive solutions which propel business forwards, faster."

That means strategists becoming involved in influencing the wider business and developing a set of traits that, taken together, Boyd terms "brand entrepreneurship".

Simply having cultural or consumer insight is no longer enough, he says: strategists will need to come up with concrete initiatives and services which add value to people's lives.

"Strategists now need to be less like thinkers who hold the strategic line and more like activists who proactively sniff out competitive commercial opportunities and then make them happen."

The emphasis will increasingly be on doing – testing and learning, collaborating across disciplines to push things forward, writing scripts – and doing at speed.

Boyd cited the new "Good Thinking" campaign for insurance business Aviva as an example of what the new strategist could deliver.

"Good Thinking's real success is that it is very much alive in the boardroom – it forces the organisation to always ask how it is helping people across every decision, highlighting the hugely powerful role brand entrepreneurship can play in the future."

It's a future that Boyd admits is both exciting and alarming, but, he maintains, it's also more satisfying.

Data sourced from Admap