I’m reading a comic book on business strategy. I love it as a format- it’s a lot of fun and a great way to build in marketing. The book is, “StrategyMan vs The AntiStrategy Squad.”

One of the book’s hypothesis is that strategy is based on insight.

It’s an interesting idea and there’s some validity to it, but more accurately, the risk in a strategy is modified by market intelligence. As in: how much accurate information you have about the market.

The more information you have, the more reliable your strategy is. Conversely, the less information you have, the less reliable your strategy becomes.

Imagine you’re playing poker with your friends. You’re sitting around a card table in a garage dense with cigar smoke. As you look around the table, you can actually see through some of the cards in their hands. You gaze at the deck and you can see a card that is coming in a few draws. How does this effect how you play?

You might choose to play a straight rather than matching cards or fold after realizing that it’s unlikely you’ll win.

It works the same way with your business strategy. The more information you have, the more likely it is that you can plan a route to success.

Because of this, you need some process to gather data about the market. This is especially true as it relates to the linchpins of your strategy. These are assumptions that must be accurate for you to be successful.

As a simple example, if your plan is to get 100 customers a month from search engine optimization, you need to validate that there is enough traffic to generate 100 customers, that searches are commercially focused, that people will buy from a search, and that you can compete at the level to capture those customers.

If you know these to be likely true, all the parts of your strategy that derive from this level of customer acquisition will likely work. If you don’t know, it’s more likely that you’ll get stuck early on and have to discard everything that followed.

If you’re developing a strategy for growth, it’s critical that you identify what you don’t know and prioritize researching your assumptions where the risk of being wrong has the greatest impact.