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It's as simple as OST

Alastair Campbell developed a mixed reputation as Tony Blair’s Machiavellian-like chief spin doctor. In his book, Winners and How They Succeed, he outlines his key for organisational success: 'OST' (Objective, Strategy and Tactic).

Eric F 18 January 2016

Alastair Campbell developed a mixed reputation as Tony Blair’s Machiavellian-like chief spin doctor and was mistakenly identified as the inspiration for possibly the most inventive and explicit insulter in the history of television, Malcolm Tucker in ‘The Thick of It’.  

Regardless of your opinion of Campbell,  it’s hard not to be drawn in by his compelling book Winners: And How They Succeed.  In the opening chapters Campbell, through numerous examples,  lays out a startlingly simple yet powerful tactic for creating organisational focus called ‘OST’, which can easily be applied to strategy and design thinking.

OST is an acronym for Objective, Strategy, Tactic.

Campbell would write this on each page of his daily workbook to keep him on course.

Much in the same way, a Business Model Canvas (BMC) paints a singular picture of a business, to create a shared vision and understanding of a business as a whole. Similarly, OST is a simple  tool to create and communicate a shared understanding of the business’s vision.

It breaks down like this:  


What is the objective?


What is the strategy?


What is the tactic?

The trick is not mixing up  strategy and tactics. I’ll use Campbell's political rationale here but this can obviously be applied to business design.


Win the election, become government.


Focus on education.


Create a comprehensive education program

A clear decision logic is created, which can be used by all team members to guide their decision-making and their actions.

Dealing with numerous clients, this is one of our most frequent challenges in understanding business requirements. We see various combinations of O&T or S&T, and sometimes just T, but often not all at once.

I’ll be adding OST into the tools acronym pile (TAP) and  jotting it down on every notebook page from now on.


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