How Is Tactical Different from Strategic?

How are tactical thinking and strategic thinking different and why does it matter?

Strategic thinking focuses on the mission and the clients. The purpose of strategic thinking is to define why we do what we do. Why should we continue to operate 10 years from now? Why would anyone care if we close before 2020? Why would anyone suffer if we closed? In short, why do we exist?

Tactical thinking focuses on how we do what we do. How can we better serve the clients? How can we distinguish our services from others who do similar things? How can we shorten the time it takes a client to achieve success?

Another way of looking at tactical thinking is that it supports the strategic. Once we know why we are doing things, it becomes important to determine how to best execute our plans.

As you know from our recent article “What Is a Strategic Plan?”, we think strategic plans should look more than 5 years into the future. The strategic plan guides your big picture.

Tactical thinking and planning are best when they cover the next 2 to 5 years. The purpose of tactical planning is to translate the big picture into near-term digestible pieces. It keeps us from becoming bogged down in the day-to-day (operational activities) but also keeps us practical.

The creation or reviewing of the business model is one example of tactical planning. The business model defines how the various systems, processes, and groups fit together. The business model changes as technology, society, and the economy change. Creating the business model is the thought-filled process that determines how an organization can best respond to the evolving world and still effectively answer the “why” questions related to the mission and clients.

A parochial school is a good example. The school might respond to the “Why do we exist question?” with “We change the character of society.” Now it is important to determine how they will change society’s character. Their answer might be, “We will share our religious foundation with those we touch through practical examples and teaching.”

Continuing the example, let us assume that the Christian school believes peacefulness would be an improvement in the character of society. How will they teach peacefulness? In the past, they might have put their message in letters home to the parents and flyers in the neighborhood. Today they might use blogs, email, tweets, and their website to share their message.

Obviously, how they share their message changes because of the changes in technology and society. If they fail to change their tactics, society will feel the school has lost its relevance. However, their strategy (changing the character of society) remains constant.

Next Step:

Determine the answer to the “why” questions for your organization

Create a strategic plan for your organization based upon the answers to the ‘why’ questions

Decide what tactics will translate your strategy into practical and relevant processes

Build your business model around your tactics

Review your business model and tactics at least every two years

The mission depends on having good answers to the “why” questions and a practical set of tactics for translating the strategy into a process that is relevant to the clients. Relevance is important to having a sustainable mission.

How well does your strategy answer the “why” questions?

How well do your tactics translate the strategy into a practical and relevant process?

As always, contact Mission Enablers if you want help. We use a special process that offers a guarantee. For more information about our process and guarantee, you can click here.

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