The Do’s And Don’ts Of Strategic Thinking
I had a really interesting realization while working with a high-functioning entrepreneurial team: how easy it is to over-focus on the tactical issues versus focusing on strategy. Over the course of the day, the group often got caught up in the specific tasks and activities, losing sight of the bigger picture. As the facilitator, it was my role to make stay sure we stayed focused on strategy.
It occurred to me how challenging but important it is for leaders in any organization to step back from the day-to-day and take a look at the bigger picture. While handling specific initiatives, tasks, or projects, the over-arching goal and strategy should always remain top of mind.
Strategy vs. tactics.
What exactly are strategy and tactics?
Tactics are about the “how” and the “who,” or any activities taken to meet specific objectives. They’re often categorized as low-altitude tasks.
Strategy is more complex; it refers to the overarching plans and goals a particular company has. It’s future-oriented and relates to the company’s long-term, overall vision.
In order to make sure your business is always thriving and growing, equal attention must be devoted to both strategy and tactics. Companies I’ve worked with that are all strategy and no tactics get stuck—they have big dreams but no specific plan of action to make them happen. Conversely, companies that are all tactics with no strategy risk a long march in the wrong direction.
This is why it’s critical to pay attention to both areas.
Do’s and don’ts for balancing the scale.
- Set aside time for strategic thinking. Ask yourself how you’re growing, what your bigger future looks like, what new capabilities you need, or if you need to retool in any areas.
- Disrupt your current processes. Consider how things can be done in new and improved ways—even if there are no issues.
- Build and invest in your team. Empower your team and make sure you have the right people in the right places. This will free up time to focus more on strategy.
- Keep your visions and goals a secret. Be open with your team about where the company is headed so you’re all working in the same direction and can share in accomplishments.
- Hire your clone. Success is about surrounding yourself with people who are great at what you’re not. If the tactical side of things is not your area of expertise, make sure you have the people working with you for whom it is. If strategy is not your strong point, find people who can help provide direction.
- Set a goal with no action plan. Find real balance by making sure your team knows your objectives as well as the tactics required to get there.
Why you win with equal footing.
Most entrepreneurs will have one area where their particular strengths lie. It’s about having awareness and recognizing whether you need to devote more attention to strategic thinking or tactical work.
By making sure the scale is balanced between big-picture thinking and task-based execution, you’ll achieve much more than you thought possible.