In Walter Kiechel’s recent Harvard Business Review post, he exposes a popular marketing myth: the death of strategy.

Declaring strategy to be a sad casualty of our current trend toward “real-time metrics” is suddenly fashionable, but it doesn’t make sense.  And yet plenty of marketers are fooling themselves into believing that an active Facebook page or Twitter presence is more important than a long-term strategy for growth, relevance and customer fulfillment.

“But we’ll adapt on the fly,” they say.  And that mindset is perfectly reasonable — even necessary — to have when dealing with live media… as long as you’re still adhering to your larger goals.

Social media is a tool, not a replacement for strategy.

The growth of your business is always your end goal.  How you get from here to there is your strategy.

If someone’s advising you to adapt your strategy — whether to utilize new tools, new tactics or simply to streamline a cumbersome process — it means they’re keeping your big picture in mind.

But if someone’s advising you to abandon strategy altogether, it means they have no idea how to strategize.

Instead, they’re hoping you’ll be distracted by the mountains of information they can deliver… but that data won’t mean anything to them or you in the long run.

A Carpenter Isn’t a Hammer; A Carpenter USES a Hammer

Your strategy might involve certain tools, or it may prove those tools to be ineffective in helping you achieve your larger goal.  If so, decide which elements are working, and then change the ones that aren’t.

You might need new tools.  You might need new personnel.  If you’re really adrift, you might need a new strategy altogether — or even a new goal.

Retrenching is nothing new.  Successful companies do it as a matter of survival.  In fact, Kiechel mentions several novel ways a company can alter its strategies to better align with its goals.

And while it’s true that implementing a new strategy can be difficult, it’s much easier than operating without one.

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