Clarifying the Future

By Matthew

· 8 min

It’s September 2022, and Hook Strategy is 3 years old, and hitting its stride.

Throughout this month I’ve been posting different thoughts about the journey I’ve been on. It’s been a good experience for me, and it’s brought me together with a lot of old friends and colleagues, and helped me to meet some amazing new people.

But the reason I really entered in to this was in a way to draw a line under the past.

Now, I want to focus as much as possible on The Future.

Imagining it, building it…and hopefully enjoying it.

Making, not guessing

Now, since I started writing these pieces, we’ve had a new Prime Minister, the death of the Queen, the crashing of Sterling, and a 24-point change in the UK’s voting intentions. 

More than ever, that makes predicting the future feel like a fool’s errand.

But there is a big difference between predicting the future, and deciding to make your own version of it. The crucial factor in the second is observing things that you experience or perceive that feel significant, and then dedicating yourself to constructively focusing on them, with optimism and commitment.

This isn’t how I started out! When I started Hook Strategy three years ago, I promised myself that I would walk as many off-road paths as possible before paving any of them.

As a result, I’ve now got a much clearer thesis for how I should invest my working efforts over the next three years.

And by putting it out into the world, I’m a lot more likely to stick to it…

Here are the 4 theses of how I am investing my time.

1. Nurturing the health of the media ecosystem

I spent the first few years of my career trying to persuade marketers that media mattered.

In the end, it felt like media walked straight past marketing, and swallowed the world.

It’s left us with a knowledge and culture ecosystem that is socially, economically and politically unstable.

It’s left us with a tentative grasp on the truth.

It’s left us with an advertising and media industry that is conflicted, and struggling for direction.

Some of the work I’ve done with the UK Government, the Wikimedia Foundation, the Ozone Project and others has touched these themes.

But now I want to double down on nurturing the health of the media ecosystem.

Over the next three years, I want to learn more about this problem, from more different angles.

I want to dive deeper into ethics and regulation, business model development, political activism, charitable fundraising, and pastoral support within the media ecosystem.

What I’ve got: lots of media expertise and experience, great collaborators, case studies

What I need: more connections with public bodies and regulators, more projects with charities and purposeful tech businesses

2. Developing strategic alchemy as a product

I firmly believe that the best solutions are created through the collision of radically different perspectives and lenses.

But whilst that’s something I’ve always felt, in truth the results of these collisions have been variable. 

What I’ve come to realise is that the environment in which they occur is everything.

The process by which the different elements are introduced.

The atmosphere of trust, or otherwise, in which they are combined.

The carefully weighing and balance of the ingredients that are introduced.

This exploration has shaped my two key areas of product development:


Consultancies can excel in their depth of experience and expertise, and in the reassurance of their brands. But their product can be monolithic and over-engineered. I’ve found that the alchemy of well-directed teams of diverse experts can deliver something far more pointed, and far more directional.

It’s not right for every situation, but I feel like my networked consulting offering, and that of many of my individual and boutique peers, can often solve questions more effectively that a traditional consulting model – and much more efficiently.


I’ve found that the brilliant diversity of leadership teams is no guarantee of strategic progress. Without a structured way of bringing multiple perspectives to the table, combining them, and forcing tough choices, real progress is hard.

The amazing thing is that a smart, focused sprint designed to unleash the alchemy of a team can massively free up the gears of strategic decision-making.

Alchemy is powerful. That’s why I think the next three years of Hook Strategy won’t be about individualism, but about enhancing the craft of bringing perspectives together.

That’s the flavour of work I want to deliver in the next three years.

What I’ve got: some great process IP, brilliant collaborators especially for larger businesses, a growing network of experts

What I need: more scale-up brands to partner with, extended category-expert community

3. Navigating the age of ‘how’

Something has changed in the way that people interact with their organisations, and the way that they work with each other.

Instinctive organisational flow, powered by co-location and imitation, has weakened.

For better or worse, people have become more self-directed, and self-reliant.

Which works for me. But clearly it doesn’t work for every person, or every business.

To succeed strategically, leaders will need new skills, and new methodologies.

  • Making intentional decisions about the location and the process of work.
  • Knowing your personal brand and organisational story and repeating it constantly.
  • Being methodical about system of management, and turning strategies into plans.
  • Creating accountability, and making self-direction your friend.
  • Becoming a teacher, and structuring and supporting your team’s learning.

I believe this will be a new era of strategic leadership, where the emphasis will need to round out the ‘why’ with much more focus on the ‘how’.

There are some tough challenges, but I’ve loved working in these spaces, and I can’t wait to do more.

What I’ve got: successful case studies in the agency space, a network of enthusiasts, good products around strategy leadership and process development

What I need: opportunities to ‘player-coach’ live projects, extension of my network into personal dynamics and capability development

4. From download to conversation

Someone recently described the modern world to me as like a washing machine – a kind of permanent revolution in which you can never get your head above water.

There’s an extreme amount of noise sloshing all around all of us, creating pressures of self-doubt, of status anxiety, of distraction.

I’m always a little aware that I’m one of many adding to that. Writing is so helpful to me, helping me to organise my thoughts, find some coherence. Is it really that helpful to anyone else? Do I really need to add to this LinkedIn cacophony? Does the world need another blog?

Hopefully, if you’ve read this far, you think it’s not totally unworthwhile!

I do think that the world I work in needs more shared thinking, and better, more independent-minded debate.

Where I want to contribute to that is through the three heses above – the health of the media ecosystem; strategic alchemy and the potential of networked consulting in particular; and how we collectively navigate the age of ‘how’.

I want to feature of other people’s perspectives, rather than always my own, and have conversations rather than always being didactic (I do believe in alchemy, after all).

I want to give people more useful tools and materials to work with, capturing and sharing the value of work as I do it and thoughts as I hear them.

So, I am going to keep writing, but in a more focused, collaborative way.

And I’m going to experiment in other ways of communicating, and yes, that does mean that I am going to start experimenting with a podcast (which may take a while to see the light.)

Hopefully that sounds ok! If there’s something you’d like me to focus on, let me know.

What I’ve got: a good writing habit, a small but loyal & growing audience

What I need: interviewees for my blog/podcast, inspiration, readers and sharers

OK…that’s it. This project was a summer sunbed whim that got out of control.

If you are interested in reading the rest of it, you can see it here…

The End of An Era

Just Like Starting Over

The Joy of Working Well

The Third Space


Hook Strategy helps organisations to move forwards with shared strategic clarity. If you are an organisation seeking unified thinking, get in touch at or by calling +44 (0)7780 481717.

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