Do you think about your problems strategically or tactically? Strategic thinking requires you to step back and look at the whole system around the problem. Are you asking how to fit your products on the shelf (tactics) or how the display will best motivate the customer to buy (strategy)?
I keep getting these questions about strategies versus tactics. I keep seeing meetings that are bringing people together to discuss strategy dissolve down into the tactics. Tactics are absolutely important but only if the strategy is defined. The strategy says where we’re going. The tactics say how we’ll get there. Turning left isn’t a useful tactic if you don’t know what town you want to end up in.
Here are some tactics to keep in mind if you want to keep people thinking strategically:
Ask the following questions:
- Where are we trying to get to?
- What outcome are we trying to achieve?
- What elements could impact that outcome?
- What assumptions do we hold and how might we rethink them?
- Why does this matter?
According to EasyStrategy.com, the word strategy comes from the Greek work meaning a military commander; leader guiding the army. A strategy is a plan for making something happen using the resources available. Figure out where you want to go and how to make the best use of the resources you have available.
Steve Robbins web page gives us a specific example. If you are trying to decide whether to paint a level on a manufacturing machine red, that’s probably tactics. If you are trying to decide whether to outsource your manufacturing, that’s strategy.
Check out Luke Houghton’s webpage for more detail on these 5 ways to think strategically:
- See it from multiple points of view.
- Look at the conditions that created the situation.
- Explore what elements are related; which are obvious and what might be hidden.
- Make sure to see what elements are not connected.
- Think from multiple disciplines.
Finally, here’s a chart from Simply Effective that you might find useful as a quick guide: