The strategist's basic toolkit

Sam Sterling
Chief Strategy Officer at AKQA

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The strategist's basic toolkit
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Starting a business is tough. Running one is a different kind of tough. Succeeding at either in the long run is – as the statistics show – near on impossible. There are so many tools and techniques out there to help you navigate this minefield successfully, that it can be difficult to know who to listen to and what to use when. The best business strategists out there have a kit of these proven tools in their arsenal that they can deploy as needed for the challenge at hand. Here are the ones I keep coming back to time and time again.


Sam Sterling is the Chief Strategy Officer at design and innovation company AKQA. She is a strategist and marketer with a background in competitive strategy and product strategy, obsessed with what it takes to create businesses which enduringly outperform and set the benchmark for all others.

  • Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything and 7 other articles
  • Average reading time: 4 minutes
  • Topics covered: startups, innovation, collaboration, workshops, moderation
  • Read or listen to articles
  • From sites like Harvard Business Review, Hyper Island, Strategyzer, and more
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Glad to see you made it all the way through this Deep Dive. We hope you found it useful and can put some of the insights to good use in your own daily life.

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Deep Dives are carefully hand-curated series of time-tested articles and videos from around the web.

We’ll guide you through, one link per day, every morning in your inbox.

Deep Dives come in bites that are short enough to fit in your day...

...but add up to a satisfying learning experience.

Analyse and create business models with Business Model Canvas (importantly, this is for business models – NOT businesses). 

Sam Sterling

Foster experimentation and validate ideas in the pursuit of business opportunities with Lean Startup Methodology. 

Sam Sterling

Host banging workshops of all kinds with Hyper Island’s toolbox. 

Sam Sterling

Help to ensure you don’t fall victim to marketing myopia by understanding your customer’s jobs-to-be-done. 

Sam Sterling

Create thoughtful, impactful solutions to tricky problems using Design Thinking. 

Sam Sterling

Leave competition behind by creating new opportunities and marketplaces to play in with Blue Ocean strategy. 

Sam Sterling

Figure out your growth strategy and how to achieve it using backcasting (I like Innosight’s Future-Back methodology). 

Sam Sterling

Nice work! I hope you found these references useful in building your own toolkit. Ultimately we each end up with go-to ways of solving problems, which is ideal… but we should still stay curious and open to new questions, new ideas, and new tools – or even dusting off old ones. 


If you liked these and want more, I really recommend checking out some of the more advanced ones. Michael Porter’s famous “Five Forces” is a good place to start (that link is to a short video, there are entire textbooks dedicated to the concept if you think it’s for you), as well as Roger Martin’s “Playing to Win”. Of course, if you want to dig deep into the roots of strategy, you can’t do better than the ultimate bible – Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”. 


Finally, should you have any questions, suggestions, ideas, or just want more of the same, join me on LinkedIn or TikTok.  

Sam Sterling