There's a nice write up of the CaT conference by Kunur over on Creativity and also on Adage that pulls out some of themes that percolated up.
They posted a video featuring me delivering a micro-rant about what strategy is.
The word strategy comes from the Greek strategos which translates roughly as general, and then came to mean the art of the general.
This is why MBA business types often used to read the Art of War by Sun Tzu. Or pretend to.
In essence, strategy is very simple.
You have a goal you wish to achieve. You have finite resources that can be deployed in achieving them.
Strategy is simply how.
In my first professional life I was a management consultant.
Whilst I wasn't a huge fan of the dress code I did like the grounding it gave me in strategy - I started out as an analyst and then moved into the strategy practice, where I became very familiar the BCG matrix, Porter's Five Forces model and the tenets of business strategy as espoused by Harvard Business School and those that follow its teaching.
And, again, its really simple.
Business exist solely to create value - to make money.
Therefore, business strategy is simply how you intend to go about doing that, using whatever assets you have available.
Everything else, brand strategy [what the brand should represent to whom because of what] and creative strategy [what's the proposition], exists only in service of that.
The reason, I suspect, that planning is once again coming under the microscope
[apart from the endlessly introspective nature of planners, natch]
and there is a sense that it needs updating, is that it is designed to translate strategy into inspiration for creative minds, leveraging the strategic currency of insights.
But, by definition, creative strategy concerns itself with the content tone and messaging of advertising, which may not be very useful for creating ideas that do, which has led some smart people to suggest that planners need to get their hands dirty and 'just effin do'.
My superawesome brother has some interesting thoughts about arbitrage as the driver of value over on his blog, and he links to the art project Bud has been running where he makes visualizations of people's definitions of strategy.
They all look lovely but I think the variety of suggestions in the comments simply reflects how far from understanding business we can sometimes be as an industry, or that fact that how we use the word strategy is probably very different from what a client understands by it.