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Santa’s Strategy 2.0



Recently, Santa has noticed changes in his strategic environment and wanted to ensure that his organisation was resilient in the face of these changes. We used Wardley mapping to describe Santa’s strategic environment.

This was undoubtedly one of the most challenging assignments AGLX has ever had. We thought this would be a simple exercise in manufacturing and logistics but under the joyful veneer we found darkness and misery.

Santa’s Existing Strategy 

In order to fulfil his mission of bringing wonder and delight to the world’s nice children, Santa rewards niceness with gifts, and punishes naughtiness with lumps of coal. A classic carrot and stick strategy.

People voluntarily share Santa’s brand promise through Christmas carols. “Santa Claus is coming to town” basically outlines Santa’s purpose, strategic intent, and operational plan. Compared to others who have tried using dogma to build a brand such as Six-sigma and Agile consultants, Santa is miles ahead. Do people sing joyously about your brand?

Below is a Wardley Map that outlines Santa’s existing strategic landscape.


Problems: Santa’s Strategic Challenges 

1. Logistics are Santa’s greatest strength but also his greatest vulnerability.

There are only eight operational Reindeer, and one red nosed PR consultant. They are not getting any younger and there is no clear succession plan. After depreciation, the book value of these Reindeer is effectively zero. Their utility is very low at 1/365, but their ROI is huge. If one of them dies the result could be a major reduction in service.

2. Santa’s operation is inefficient and manual.

Santa established his centralised manufacturing in the North Pole in order to take advantage of the lax legislative environment and the availability of cheap elf labour. He faces a huge capital cost if he is going to upgrade his facilities. Santa’s organisation is facing pressure from changing global supply chains and increasing scrutiny on his social license to operate. His frequent IP infringements are starting to become costly. He is able to maintain this operation due to two strategic advantages:

a. Santa can tolerate long lead times. His annual delivery cycle means his operation has fared well in the recent global supply chain shortages.

b. Santa relies on a large numbers of joyful but docile workers. Santa runs an annual engagement survey, (and just like the one you run, it is nonsense). Elves claim to be happy, but only to avoid management scrutiny. In reality, they are faced with harsh and uncompromising working conditions.

We couldn’t determine if Santa has a recruitment program or breeding program. Elf welfare seems to fall in between the human rights and animal welfare legislation. This is a clear case of epistemic injustice and is a cause of major concern.

Are toys still the best way to bring wonder and delight to the world’s children? The current model reinforces the increasingly dated view that accumulation of assets equates to happiness.


3. Santa’s astonishingly large and accurate data base.

Santa has accumulated a global database of quantitative geospatial information. This includes the number of children and their specific location. He supports this with detailed qualitative information including if have they been naughty or nice and what their gift preferences are. Children only provide some of this information voluntarily. To quote his creepy propaganda song – “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.”

How does Santa maintain such accurate real time surveillance on so many? We are under strict NDA not to disclose the answer. However, we can make some recommendations:

Solutions: Santa’s New Strategy 

The Wardley map shows that the surveillance system is both unique, valuable, and scalable. It has kept up with the growth and movement of billions of children for many years. Santa will shift focus from old world manufacturing and logistics towards a new era of ‘Santa Data’.


Santa has real time information on your children, their specific location and consumer preferences. Uninhibited by moral and ethical concerns there is no limit to the monetisation options available to Santa Data. Santa will sell curated personal information to security organisations, governments, and commercial interests. Santa Data will be a hugely profitable enterprise that will make Meta look like a benevolent charity.

Mission: Grow ‘Santa Data’ into a global consumer information hub. 

Santa will innovate using the AGLX ICE Innovation® framework to find new ways to create joy and wonder.

    • He will outsource toy manufacturing and may eventually abandon it.
    • He will maximise the utility of the reindeer to provide logistics support and brand recognition.
    • The above activities will be focused on shifting resources toward Santa Data and increasing data collection.


1. Outsource Manufacturing


On the Wardley map we can see that Santa’s manufacturing is starting to become uncompetitive. Elves provide a unique low-cost labour source, but this also creates strategic risk.

His workshop is literally melting from underneath him. Giving coal to children who are naughty highlights this issue. Moving away from low value activity will free up time and resources to focus on Santa Data.

2. Sell off ‘Santa Brands’

Linking religious tradition with ancient folk custom and focusing it on commercial gain is an act of pure marketing genius. Santa will spin off Santa Brands to raise capital to invest in Santa Data.

      • Santa will write a book and Santa Brands publish thousands of LinkedIn articles about ‘The Santa Way’.
      • Santa Brands will refresh the Christmas Carols. They are getting tired, and some of the lyrics are weird.

3. Increase Reindeer Utility and Heard Resilience

Flying reindeer are an amazing thing but if no one sees them then their value is significantly reduced. Virtual reality experiences are displacing the wonder and delight of unseen reindeer for many children. Santa will:

      • Develop a Reindeer succession plan immediately
      • Allow the Reindeer to operate during the day. This will increase the brand presence and children’s participation in letter writing (data gathering).Explore opportunities to utilise spare reindeer capacity. Amazon would be a good strategic partner. Drones are annoying, reindeer are awesome. It seems as if Amazon and Santa share a similar view on worker welfare.


HO HO HO Merry Christmas from AGLX!


Case study written by Steve & illustrated by Meg

Download a copy here Santa’s Strategy 2.0 case study


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We work with the leaders of organisations who are looking for fresh thinking and want to challenge the status quo. 

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