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  • Adam Walter

Tactics vs Strategy


Tactical: showing adroit planning; aiming at an end beyond the immediate action.

Strategic: relating to the identification of long-term or overall aims and interests and the means of achieving them.

When troubleshooting a problem we throw around terms like tactics and strategy. However, people should be aware that there is a very different result from each method of thinking. Today we are going to tell a story of two different people solving a problem.

The problem:

An Aurors Inc. branch office has a problem with downtime. Over the last several years their employees have had issues with computers malfunctioning. They are also having quite a few other issues that are raising tensions within the office. Something needs to be done.

Tactical Problem Solving:

The head auror decides to hire a technician to come in and resolve the issues. The technician is very capable and identifies the issues through the system. He sell aurors Inc. a new network solution and resolve problems with aging equipment that was causing many issues. The office is operating smoothly for the first time that anyone can remember.

Strategic Problem Solving:

The head auror decides to hire a strategist to analyze their company and needs to find the best solution. The strategist talks to the aurors and identifies key business initiatives as well as any current concerns. It turns out that the priority is getting online to track dark wizards. She then creates a strategy to ensure that the aurors can always get online. She hires a technician to come in and resolve the issues and maintain the resources. She then reaches out to other branch offices and identifies that the offices are isolated and keep resolving issues independently. She creates a communication channel between the technicians and all branches. She also creates regular strategy sessions with the offices to talk about issues being faced. Now the technician is serving several offices for a reduced rate and the auror's offices are sharing information and resources to better track dark wizards.

In both situations the problem was resolved in a similar fashion. However, the strategist saw a much bigger picture and came up with a solution beyond the immediate problem. Not only is the initial office happy, but their business increases and problems are resolved long term with the new business relationships that have been opened.

The big problem here is that most people think they are being strategic when in reality they are being tactical. What is hard about this is that you never realize you are missing the big picture until someone shows you. Often that person is a competitor.

We get so caught up in the tactics that we don't see the strategy. In the situation above the tactical resolution got the job done. However, the company would never realize the opportunity to work with other offices and those other offices would never realize that there was a resolution to their problem.

I know what you are thinking, some times you just don't have time to think strategically. Sometimes you just need to solve a problem. This is 100% correct, however this is why you schedule strategic sessions from time to time. This way when you are thinking about the tactics you can align with your overall strategy. In the example the strategist was thinking about the tactical solution to the problems, but she discovered a bigger picture and began the process of alignment. Now there is a communication stream and a process for handling things at multiple offices. If one office finds a new tool that makes them more successful they can alert the rest of the offices.

Conclution

To use one final analogy; The tactician plays a game of chess, the strategist creates a tournament.


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