Some middle market company executives spend their day deep in the weeds of tactics. They think about strategy at the annual planning retreat, but the five-year strategic plan then sits quietly on a shelf in their office.
Achieving a balance between strategy and tactics is critical to accelerating profit and growth, and increasing the value of your business. Given the demands on their time, executives should lean toward strategy.
Both strategy and tactics exist to move the company toward its vision – a picture of the future state you’re trying to achieve in the next two to three years. The vision provides focus, sets clear goals and provides a means for your people to set priorities. It tells them where and why, and should motivate people.
Strategy is the means by which you attain your vision. It’s how you plan to achieve the vision; which path you’ll take to get there. There is only one vision, but there are often many strategies. Picking which one to use is strategy development, and proper selection will drive you to your vision more quickly and with better results.
Executives, academics and consultants often refer to this process of vision and strategy development as “Strategic Planning.” My mentor, Alan Weiss, says that strategic planning is an oxymoron, because strategy and planning exist on two different levels, and trying to do both at the same time is conflicting. You have to know what your strategy is before you can develop the tactical plan for executing your strategy.
Tactics are the day-to-day activities that fulfill the strategy, often referred to as the plan. It is all too easy for executives to focus on tactical activities rather than strategy, especially if that’s where they feel most comfortable. Their day-to-day activities involve tactical solutions such as delivering on time, closing a sale, product development, implementing lean, and solving problems. However, once the vision and strategy are set at the executive level, managers and other further down the chain of command can develop the tactics.
Developing a balance between strategy and tactics improves business performance and increases value for your shareholders. If you have strong strategy and weak tactics, your strategy can’t be implemented. If you have strong tactics and weak strategy, you aren’t prepared for the future. If both are weak, you have chaos. But if both are strong, you have a dynamic organization that achieves world-class results and dramatically improved value.
If you aren’t looking at strategy, who is? If you focus on vision and strategy and let your best people handle the tactics, you have the potential to delight your stakeholders beyond expectations. Striking a balance between strategy and tactics will move you beyond the competition and achieve a future state of value and success.
© 2016 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved