One of the best things I've never learned in University was the difference between creativity and strategy.
Mind you, I DID study marketing. But somehow I never came across a single definition for an objective, how it's different from a goal or what the heck is a key performance indicator (uh... money? Making my boss happy? Did I pass?).
I learned about benchmarks and creative ideas and media formats and how digital was the future. Today I know that saying something "is the future" is by no means a critical view whatsoever. It's also not a strategy, nor a vision, not even a fucking action plan.
But it's a nice punchline if you want to make an impact.
The future, after all, is scary. And scary makes people insecure. Insecure people buy things they don't understand. Hence, scary and the future are consultants' best friends. (see what I did there?)
Practice led to some learning. As did a lot of reading, the right colleagues to chat, the right bosses to hit me in the head and the right clients to show the perspective from the other side of the table.
All these things and a fair share of thinking taught me a lot of complex definitions. They also taught about how all of them are at some point useless or overproduced. The best way to clearly state something is to simply state it clearly.
Textbook definitions aside, today I think strategy is close to what Malcolm Gladwell once called "a structure for spontaneity". In short, it's the best way to optimize the odds (through the right data, real human insights, a clear road map, laser-focused action, the right trade-offs and a sensible way to measure all of this) so that creativity can flourish.
It's just like gambling in a system where we hacked some of its variables to bring home a million bucks. But with, you know, a higher sense of morality with some blog material attached to it.