This article offers a new analytical framework to engage more effectively with the unit vs. system levels of analysis divide in International Relations (IR) by introducing Strategic Diplomacy. The systemic focus of structural theories obfuscates the crucial role of unit-level factors that contribute to policy outcomes, and studying actors and issues in isolation is equally unhelpful. By contrast, Strategic Diplomacy starts from a level-playing field and examines how actors and issues are embedded in a systemic context. The framework generates analytical leverage by both disaggregating the complexity of systems and highlighting that problem representation is entirely dependent on the boundaries of the system within which the problem is embedded. Yet, the boundaries that define a collective action problem are not drawn by the system alone; they are a conscious and strategic choice of those who analyse and make foreign policy.