Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Strategist ≠ WTF

I come from a design background.

I work across the worlds of communications, branding and business strategy.

It’s pretty easy for people to get confused about what kind of beast I am.

Hell, sometimes -when coffee is conspicuous by its absence- even I get confused.

Thankfully Peter Thomson over at The Economics of Innovation did a vox pops with his strategist mates, helping set everyone straight about just what it is that we do.


Choice nuggets:

What is a strategist?

A strategist develops opinions on the future direction of a company and its brand, based on existing and predicted conditions, other known variables, intuition and research.
– David Lyall, Creative Strategist

A strategist uses big-picture thinking, storytelling, insights, criteria development tools and synthesis in the development of agreed-upon end-goals.
– Randy Deutsch, Design Strategist

A strategist figures out how the various cogs and wheels fit together so that the whole machine hums.
– Meena Kadri, Communications Strategist

What makes a good strategist?

A good strategist is marked out by their ability to use two words: “No” and “Why”.
– David Lyall

A good strategist sees problems through other’s perspectives.
– Randy Deutsch

A good strategist has two core skills; critical thinking and writing; and if they are really good, pattern seeking.
– Josh Levine, Culture Consultant

Randy Deutsch went on to say that

Strategy provides a lens through which to see projects in a certain light…

Given that, I’d go on to say that one of the skills of the strategist is being able to hold up multiple lenses to whatever problem the client needs to solve. The perspectives of the consumer, customer, retailer and client stakeholders are all relevant; it’s our job to created the blended image that brings each stakeholder’s requirements into focus.

P.S. How cool is John Levine’s job title?

Head on over to Peter’s blog The Economics of Innovation to read the full piece.


Category: Design Strategy

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3 Responses

  1. Massimo says:

    Great entry, very interesting…

    where there is the world culture is always good (and cool)…

  2. Kathryn says:

    I have seemed to stumble across your blog, and am currently studying design strategy at the moment. It’s so true, when people ask.. so.. what do you do exactly?

    You’ve articulated great parts of Peter’s blog, noice.

  3. Drew says:

    Hey Kathryn!

    Thanks so much for commenting 🙂 It’s great to know that the post is still resonating.

    If you’re ever over in London, drop me a line. It’d be cool to hear more about your experiences.



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© Andrew Philip Artois Smith and DownsideUpDesign, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew/Drew Smith and DownsideUpDesign with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.