When strategy ends at the pitch or with the brief to the team, everyone loses. It seems fairly obvious but time and again, I have witnessed teams built where the time for strategists in the workplan ends early in the engagement. This is not just an issue with a traditional waterfall approach but happens also in agile environments as well: the pivot to delivery leaves the strategic framework in the dust of a deck sitting in a folder in Box.
This isn’t just the issue with account management but with strategists themselves. Recently, I was involved in a pitch led by a senior strategist who came away saying the client didn’t want strategy because they were only interested in agile development not two months of research. We then took it as an opportunity to show how strategy could be baked into and evolved holistically into an agile component development AND how it would ladder up to the bigger brand experience.
By componentizing and integrating the strategy with the development rather than as a prerequisite before development, we can lower the risk to the client and pivot based on on-going experience research. Of course, this challenges the “deck is the strategy” approach that many consultancies take but ultimately it provides more assurance the delivered product will have adoption.
In one consultancy engagement in which I was on the client side, I witnessed a very well-known consultancy create a whole “marketing department” from scratch without ever talking to the company’s agency about how they worked with us. More than two years was lost trying to standup the resulting deck before it was tossed in the vertical file and everything went back to how it had been.
Of course, it raises the question of why strategists are more comfortable behind a screen than getting real-world feedback. And as an experience designer, it seems that we are more comfortable designing for the ideal world than the real world. In the real world of human interactions, how humans should react is often not how they actually react. Efficiency doesn’t equal efficacy when human behavior comes into play. It’s a theme I’ve embraced since a failed (in human testing) booking design for a rental-car company.
We had managed to create the entire booking form (no credit card required) into the home page—highly efficient. We took it to testing (several focus groups) and consumers hated it. Why? They told us that they didn’t trust that their requests as entered would be accurately captured AND that the category itself didn’t have a lot of trust so they wanted to see everything repeated back to them before they confirmed the booking.
For the rental-car company, a great and well-meaning strategy failed when it came to human behavior and the layer of category mistrust. Ever sense, as Sam Walton opined, I realized data without talking to the customers was a dangerous game of chance.
© 2018 noble savages marketing, inc.