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Monday, May 12, 2008

Strategy, tactics & why they matter...

by David Bookout

Imagine that you need to get to New York, but you live in San Francisco.

Does it matter how you get there? It does if your strategy is to get there fast.

Google Maps indicates that a trip from the Transamerica Building in San Francisco to the Empire State Building in New York takes in 2,907 miles and would encompass 43 hours, presumably at regulated highway speeds.

But what if you only had a pair of roller blades, wouldn't that be a tactic that would effect your strategy? Perhaps not if you wore them on a supersonic jet.

Strategy is a narrative about the future that incorporates specific goals. Tactics are the interim steps used to reach those goals.

So, if our strategy is to get to New York, and the Empire State Building fast, faster than 43 hours, then our tactics might be to rollerblade through the heavy traffic we might encounter to and from the airport, and our ride on the supersonic jet.

In our simple example it is not hard to see that strategy and tactics must be connected in a way that supports the specific strategic goals, in this case speed. But in business tactics are often confused for strategy, and it can be difficult to see the long range effect our tactics have relative to leadership's strategic narratives and goals.

We put this strategic matrix together to illustrate how strategy and tactics connect with essential business concerns like product development and operations, each with their own strategies and supporting tactics, yet connected, and always supporting of the business strategy.

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