Strategy Vs Tactics
Strategic Planning – So Simple Yet Still So Misunderstood
An internet search for Strategic Planning or Business Strategy will lead you to a plethora of articles similar to “The 7 steps of strategic planning”, “The 4 components of strategic planning”, etc. You will find countless articles, steps, diagrams, and frameworks (i.e., McKinsey 7-S, Porter 5 Forces). While this is a topic often written about, it’s also easy to get overwhelmed knowing where to start.
This is particularly true with early-stage companies who have limited resources. Quite often, a handful of team members sit around a table for a few hours, discuss current operational challenges, list a few initiatives to address those challenges, and then get to work. Alternatively, many start-up founders have a strong vision for the purpose of their company. These founders are very passionate about the problem or need their company addresses. They can speak ad nauseum about how and why they started the company. These founders employ the “if we build it, they will come” mentality. But passion alone doesn’t make a business succeed. With a 90% failure rate, it is important for early-stage companies to get it right by connecting vision to both strategy and tactics.
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tzu
What is strategy versus tactics?
Strategy is an overarching plan, which includes a set of goals or milestones.
Tactics are specific steps or actions that are taken to carry out a strategic goal.
While a company’s vision doesn’t often change, a company’s strategy on living that vision can change every few years. The tactics to meet those strategic objectives usually span the next 1-2 years. Assuming a constant vision, business planning ALWAYS starts with strategy.
It is more important to understand the difference between strategy and tactics, and why you need both, than to select and use one of the many strategic planning frameworks available. The critical path to successful business planning is the connection of the company’s vision to strategic objectives and then to tactical initiatives. Strategic planning frameworks are merely tools to organize a team’s thoughts and guide the company through this critical path. Keeping focus and following the path is the key.
Read about how to pitch this plan to raise capital here.
When filling a long-term role, remember that all jobs have a learning curve—no matter how much experience you have, you still have to learn new processes and systems when you take a new role. Also, skills can be learned. Instead of years of experience, you might evaluate a candidate’s willingness to learn, transferable skills, and aptitude for solving problems.