Step 5 – develop and define tactics

By now your vision should be defined, focused, and articulated. You should have enough confidence in it that you are able to promote it enthusiastically and unequivocally. Plus, your strategic plan should be taking shape. Based on the vision, your personal and corporate values, and shaped by the marketplace and your constituents, you will have developed an overall plan for reaching the vision.

But how does that happen in real life? What are you going to do today? Most of us have a slate of activities already. We will have inherited forms, systems, procedures, methodology, and products. we should also have inherited the founder’s sense of entrepreneurial adventure.

Sadly, as an organization ages, that sense of adaptability, innovation, and adventure is one of the first things to drop off. The vision first articulated by the founder(s) gave birth to a strategic plan which in turn spawned forms, systems, procedures, methodology, and products. Somewhere over time and somehow in our thinking, those forms, systems, procedures, methodology, and products grew in stature to become who we are as a company.

This is terribly wrong.

Tactics – forms, systems, procedures, methodology, and products – are a means to the end. They are not the purpose for which we exist…although too often we have made them thus. Tactics are:

The means by which a strategy is carried out; planned and ad hoc activities meant to deal with the demands of the moment, and to move from one milestone to other in pursuit of the overall goal(s). In an organization, strategy is decided by the board of directors, and tactics by the department heads for implementation by the junior officers and employees.

Tactics take advantage of PRESENT circumstances, exploit present conditions, and pursue opportunity. Sadly, here are five results that are too often realized:

First, because tactics are activities performed almost daily, we tend to measure progress in terms of the amounts of activities we’ve performed and efficiency with which we do them.

Second, they cloud the lack of real progress because we stay busy.

Third, they usually lose their effectiveness over time. Check out Geico’s “15 minutes or less” commercials and notice how they’ve changed them. They now acknowledge that “everybody knows that” and inject a humorous side to the conversation. Keeping things fresh is one of the biggest challenges.

Fourth, tactics can be worshipped aver everything else. We do them every day, we count them, report on them, laud them, track them, eulogize them, focus almost entirely upon them. They become the focal point of our existence. Notice my use of the expression “focal point.” What should be the focal point of our company or organization?

That’s right. The vision!

Instead it’s the tasks that fill the day which intrude upon the conscience and become objects of adulation and esteem.

Fifth, we can literally love them to death. We can be so enamored with our efficiency and quantitative measures that we neglect to determine if they are really getting us where we need to go. Read results one through four again.

So, what do we need to do? How do we need to respond? I’ll tell you on Thursday (and fill on those blank spots in the diagram).

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