Throw out the chess board. We’re playing hockey now.


Quit yer lolly-gagging and yer whining. You're getting called out on your strategery. Sure, lots of people still buy it. And we firmly believe in the power of transformational strategy. But once they get it, they're not quite sure what they got or what to do with it.

For the love of God, use plain language.
Sometimes the big words and the old-world consultancy speak get you through a meeting or two. But you know what people really want and are too shy to ask for? Just some plain-clothed English laying out some mighty fine ideas.

Talk to real people, not just the suits.
In MBA school, you're taught how to speak to a C-suite and talk at a room of bewildered help-me-survive-this-fiscal-year types. If you move your conversation vertically, rather than cycling through the same shit laterally, you'll get a lot more material — and a lot more truths — to work with. Real people who live it will spark more ideas than their manager's twice-removed C-level exec.

Watch the clock.
Every year, the pace picks up a bit. Corporations, non-profits, NGOs — the time-space continuum is not what it used to be and it's in your face, laughing. The luxury of a three-year think/test/build/measure cycle is neither afforded nor rewarded.

Make stuff.
Do you know how to make stuff? If not, do you know how to partner up with folks who make stuff? Make sure you bring them in early, and make sure you let them poke around in your ivory tower. It doesn't matter how solid your thinking is if you don't know how to socialize, energize, and realize your efforts. "A densely packed memo!? Awesome!" said no one, ever.

Cut to the chase.
Some things are a real conundrum. Other times, solutions are staring you right in the face but you're either too tied up in some played out 2x2 grid or you're picking the nits out of a five-page single-spaced poorly formatted memo. If the glimmer of "this could totally work!" strikes you, cut to the chase and make it happen. Strategy is way cooler when you can execute on it, not just say you spent a year thinking about it.

Munawar Ahmed is a user experience consultant based in New York City. She works on S, M, L, and XL projects, from indie startups to mega-corps. She's friendly, most days. Get in touch.