Strategy tax

Working for or with a large company involves so called “Strategy tax” (see definition here). I came across a nice example recently in the field of photography. Here is the story:

Back panel of a high-end camera is a very expensive real estate. There are so many camera functions and so few buttons available. And that’s why only the most important functionality of the camera is accessible directly via buttons and the rest of camera is operated by complex and slow on-screen menu system.

If you look at the picture above you will see a back panel of Canon 5D. It has only 10 buttons but one of them (left of the viewfinder) is reserved for printing. Who would ever print directly from this camera? Every serious photographer has built some picture processing workflow and printing is usually the last step of this workflow.

It would be much better to associate this button with some more useful function of the camera. But given that Canon wants to sell printers to photographers the ability to print directly from a camera was given a very precious piece of the camera back panel. And this is what is called a strategy tax…


  1. thanks to rss and radovan i’m happy to read you (my czech is lousy, so english is a great choice 8^).

    regarding ‘strategy tax’: it is more strategy confusion and lack of clear objectives. when i compare user-centric design of a blackberry with “we can do all kinds of neat stuff” design of windows mobile, it is more than just a strategy tax..

    cheers – jsw

  2. Good to read you again, Roman. Yes, my Canon 400D has exactly the same useless button and I often think of that valuable room wasted 🙂

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