Strategy as Distinction & Connectability

...or, a  megalomaniac attempt to be
a smaller version of Schopenhauer.

Inspired by:
The Work of Niklas Luhmann

Years and years of thinking brought Schopenhauer to the result, that the world - as experienced by man - consists of two factors: "Der Wille" & "Die Vorstellung". "Striving" & "Mental Representation". Forget the details, it's not about his work, it's more about the endeavor to factorize things "as high as can get". Everything is embodied in the two factors. So lots of information about reality "gets lost" in them.

The advantage of such a model of Strategy would be: it would be universally true - always! The disatvantage would be: because it's always true it does not help to solve any particular case in its singularity.

Nevertheless, there is a certain drive in man to look for the universally true - though this might be a false, misleading & impractical "strive". So let's try. It's fun.

Shopenhauer himself did not help me at all in finding the content of such a universal formula for planning. He gave me the form: two factors with no chance for a third one. The content came from Niklas Luhmann. A German systemic sociologist, or to be more precise, the only systemic socilogist - world wide... ever. (There is no systemic sociology, there's just Luhmann and people studying Luhman who call themselves systemic sociologists.)  They don't understand it, I don't understand it, probably noone really does for longer than a minute or so. But there are two basic, more or less understandable things about his thinking that could directly influence planning: a) a system is a system due to the one basic distinction it draws between what belongs to it and what doesn't, b) communications communicate with communications, not people; i.e. they work ONLY through being ignited by preceeding communications & through being connected to subsequent communications.
The first notion is actually quite well accepted in the form of Bateson's "An information is a differecne that makes a difference".
The second notion is particularly obscure, I know, we can loosen that up a bit and maybe say: communications work through connection to something before and after it. Also see my post on the "meaning in-between things"

Luhmann's two insights could be translated in a Schopenhauer-like formula of Account Planning: "Communication Strategy is about drawing a Distinction based on its Connectability". Strategy is Distinction & Connectability. "Unterschied & Anschluss". I really do prefer the German one in this case.

Now, it's quite important not to understand "Distinction" as the widely used "Differentiation" and "Connectability" not as "Connection Planning" or "Touchpoint Strategy" although these terms are interrelated to some extent.
In this blog I try to draw attention to things happening in the planner's mind. Differentiation and Connection Planning are not a mode of thinking or a technique that could be used by a planner - they are rather judgement criteria, tasks or deliverables. Whereas "Distinction" and "Connectability" could be seen as the two universal things the planner should be looking for, thus also being two modes of working.


The Planner shapes the strategy as a Dualism between A & B
(or several such dualisms)


The Planner can prove that The Distinction he has drawn between A & B is
  • seamlessly connectable to existing, salient representations, behavior & communications in the past
  • will elicit salient representations, behavior & especially communications in the future
I'm deeply in love with the notion of "Distintion" so let me explain a bit more. Once again, "Distinction" is not "Differentiation"! Here's a conversation showing why:
Junior Planner:
"The strongest differentiating feature of this mobile phone is the number of Megapixels of it's camera.."
Senior Planner:
"Yes, great, so what is The Distinction that YOU draw? Lots of Megapixels vs little of them? or good images vs bad images? or maybe close to reality vs far from reality? or for experiences worth good documentation vs experiences not worth it? or maybe real photocamera vs regular phone cam?"

Distinction is a really strong "mental tool". I have not encountered it being used explicitly. I also like the English verb "to draw" a distinction. Its really very much about drawing a separating line with a pen...

As for Connectability... next time:-) It's probably related to "Research" & "Objectives", I guess.
This is really way too long as a blog post. I will follow-up later.

Thanks for reading.