As a young strategist, I moved from Amsterdam to London to help my career and learn from the best. In the birthplace of planning, I often felt impressed (and intimidated) by senior strategists showcasing their intelligence.
I didn’t always understand what they were saying when they quoted Nietzsche to explain their strategies or drew parallels between Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and a campaign’s tone of voice. And as a non-native English speaker, I needed to look up some of the words they used.
As my career progressed, I realised good strategy is not about showcasing how smart you are. Quoting philosophers, referring to classical music or using difficult words is not helpful; it’s distracting. Good strategists make what is difficult simple and easy to understand. Good strategists set direction by providing clarity.
Nowadays, I don’t trust people who aren’t clear in what they say. I believe they don’t really know what they’re talking about. Or have something to hide.
So next time you hear someone talk ‘rocket science’, you know what to do. Ask them to clarify what they’re saying. And if they can’t, they might not be so sharp after all.
Written by Pieter-Paul von Weiler, co-founder BetterBriefs