A- A+

How Strategic Planning Differs from Clickbait

Strategic Planning

October 19, 2022

The ten secrets that strategic planning consultants don’t want you to know … number eight will blow your mind!

Build a strategy for your small business without resorting to clickbait headlines. Read through these elements of clickbait to learn how you can facilitate a strategic planning process that grows in the long-term.

Developing Strategy Through Logic + Clarity

1. 20 signs that you’re actually a … strategic planner

An antecedent is a pre-existing condition that logically exists before a subsequent following event. In a sentence, it generally refers to pronouns agreeing with their subjects. An example would be “If Benji facilitates a strategic planning process, he will be helping that organization grow.” Benji is the subject of the sentence, and the antecedent to the pronoun “he.” The logic checks out — Benji is the same in the first and second part of the sentence, and everyone understands the progression.

2. You won’t believe what happens next …

Now that we have established a baseline for the need for general logic in a sentence, let’s talk about word usage. A typical sentence has about 10-12 words in it. A typical clickbait sentence has between six and eight. The syntactic separation of these shorter sentences creates a feeling of urgency where sometimes logic does not have time to form up in a way that is not immediately overwhelmed by an emotional or subjective need to know that which comes next.

3. They laughed when I said they needed a strategic plan, but when I sat down at my keyboard …

Noam Chomsky, the American linguist, in his 1957 work Syntactic Structures, separated syntax into two independent constructs: Syntax (mechanics) and Semantics (meaning). He essentially argued that sentences should be broken down into smaller pieces and analyzed. When disaggregating clickbait, you can see the importance of making sure that you don’t end up with a sentence that resembles his famous phrase:

“Colorless green ideas sleep furiously”

That sentence has no problems grammatically but means absolutely nothing.

4. The hot new strategic planning process that experts don’t want you to know about…

The feeling of scarcity or missing out on something can be a powerful motivator. When tied to the idea that everyone else already knows something or that this is a new concept that you’re one of the first to become aware of, this feeling can cause behaviors that also lack logic. You could argue that the countless shows from the mid-2000s on the Discovery channel that had “new” information about subject matter like the Bermuda Triangle or Bigfoot would fall under this category. Seemingly credible, you watch until the final minutes when the narrator informs you that there really isn’t any new information contained anywhere in the “documentary.”

5. This organization did a strategic plan…what happened next will shock you.

The last element of clickbait that generally (and most consistently) exists is the element of shock. This can be through hyperbolic words or over-exuberant or euphoric wording. In fact, research has shown that 80% of all clickbait contains elements of shock in one form or another. In the above title — if it were actually clickbait — there is a fair to strong chance that you would not only NOT be shocked, but you’d be a little irritated that you clicked the link to begin with.

6. This one simple strategic planning trick will change your life…

With all that in mind, when it comes to building a strategy, remember the following:

  • Make sure the pronouns of your objectives and goals are logically matched to the antecedent strategy;
  • Be as certain as you can that your word usage in the plan creates an ecosystem of objective discovery and clarity around well-defined concepts and ideas;
  • Pay attention to both the mechanics and the meaning of your strategies as they are developed;
  • Do not employ scarcity tactics or endeavor to create a feeling of missing something as a foundational strategy as it is not understandable or sustainable over the long term;
  • Do not use euphoric or hyperbolic constructs that lead to false expectations, unrealistic metrics, or unreachable outcomes.

Oh! One last thing — there is no number eight to “blow your mind” by in this blog. Sorry.

Find these tips useful? Learn more tricks on how to maximize the potential of your business through The Partnership’s Small Business Resources Hub.

Joe Benesh

Joe Benesh is the President and CEO of The Ingenuity Company, located in Des Moines. The Ingenuity Company specializes in Strategic Planning, Diagramming, Organizational Design Thinking, and Leadership/Change Facilitation. He also teaches strategic planning at the University of Iowa in the MBA Program.