Addressing the Question of Cost

September 13, 2017

Dear Strategy:

“How can we tell a product strategy story without getting questions on cost or other tactical issues?”

Let’s cover this question in two parts, starting with the story.

In the book I wrote, Creative Strategy Generation, I provided a storytelling tool based on the standard dramatic arc. I call it The Strategic Arc, and it basically takes the 5 storytelling phases of Introduction, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution, and translates them into the five parts of a strategic story, which are Situation, Problem, Solution, Execution, and Results.

For more information on how to use this Strategic Arc framework, please see my answer to Question 11 here.

The reason The Strategic Arc is important with relation to the question being asked here has to do with costs and tactics, which are both integral parts of the Execution part of your story.

When putting together a strategy, you may be inclined to end with the plan. But what good is a plan if you have no idea how, or if, it can be executed? And to figure that out, you’ll need to know something about the actions you’ll need to take and how much those actions are going to cost.

If you have a plan to populate Mars, you’re not going to very far until you reveal some of the details of how exactly you intend to do it and how much it’s going to cost. These are discussions that should be embraced, not avoided. And these are the discussions that will ultimately allow you to get the necessary buy-in and support to fully execute on your plan.

Thinking that you can tell your strategic story without going into these details is equivalent to ending a book by revealing an elaborate plot to kill the King, but never revealing how or if that plot was ever carried out. A good story keeps telling you what happens next until all problems have been resolved. And your strategic story needs to do the same thing.

So, talk about tactics; talk about costs; bring those discussions front and center and make them an integral part of your plan. In short, finish your story before someone else finishes it for you. Because if that someone else is a competitor, you’ll never have the chance to truly profit from your plan.


Listen to the podcast episode
Dear Strategy: Episode 015




Bob Caporale is the author of Creative Strategy Generation and the host of the Dear Strategy podcast. You can learn more about his work by visiting

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