Increasingly, I use the term “decision-context” in preference to “strategy.” Why? In part, it’s because of the failings of the word strategy:
- Most people believe they know what strategy means. But ask any two people and you will find they define it differently.
- Modern product companies have a very different conception of strategy to the command and control hierarchies of the past, but “strategy” fails to disambiguate.
- “Strategy” sounds to many people “on the ground” like something that isn’t connected directly to their daily life.
I’m usually skeptical of introducing new terms. They incur a big upfront adoption cost, and a marginal cost for every new team member. But there is also an inherent advantage to unfamiliar terms: they force a conversation about what they mean, encouraging shared definitions.
There are other benefits specific to “decision-context” as a replacement:
- Decision-context stresses that the role of strategy is to enable high quality decisions.
- While “strategy” sounds like something set by bosses, decision-context clearly exists at every level.
- While “strategy” sounds like something there may be only one of (like a grand plan), decision-contexts are clearly everywhere.
TODO: write about nested decision-contexts visualised as trees. Decisions themselves form the decision-contexts for subordinate decisions.
Valuable Systems is the blog of me, Cantlin Ashrowan, a product leader based in London. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow me on Twitter here.