Are you working longer hours than ever? Is your team screaming that they cannot take on another initiative, but you feel you must add more to their plate? Are key priorities getting pushed back because short-term issues keep consuming everyone’s time? You may be suffering from being too tactical in your endeavors and not spending enough time strategizing. If this sounds familiar, let’s take a more in-depth look at exactly why this occurs and how we can put an end to it. Ultimately, this practice results in wasted time, which leads to lost profit.
Strategy vs. Tactics
First, let’s make sure we’re clear on the difference between Strategy and Tactics.
Strategy defines your ultimate destination or goals for the long-term (vision). It identifies your risks, isolates the challenges and obstacles to success, and determines your crucial success factors.
Tactics are the specific actions you’ll take (or not take) to accomplish your strategy.
For example, Uber strategized to simplify arranging a ride. Their strategy is to use technology to connect people who had vehicles and wanted more work with people who liked technology’s convenience and wanted alternatives to the existing transportation offerings.
They then executed on that strategy by using tactics to bring it to life, which included building and perfecting the technology used to connect drivers to passengers, attracting enough drivers in each market, marketing to and building confidence in clients, and addressing the local regulatory challenges in each market.
Do you see the difference? Strategies are the vision and foresight that have to happen, while tactics are the actions we take now. And they both can have a substantial impact on your company. Frequently, the wasted activity in your organization is because people are busy but not productive. They are working but not on the right things.
Activity Vs. Productivity
Organizations lose a good deal of time and energy running in circles, zig-zagging, and starting and stopping because there was not enough thought invested on the front-end to define desired outcomes as well as the best paths to reach them. Could you be guilty of this practice? Are you setting aside at least one day a month and two days a quarter to bring your team together to have strategic discussions? If you are like most, the honest answer is, “No!”
We are repeatedly told, “We do not have time for meetings; there is too much work, and everyone already knows what must get done.” However, this is where you are a danger to yourself and your team. Most likely, you are confusing activity with productivity. Activity is just the exertion of energy, and it can be done without any meaningful purpose. But productivity is the exertion of energy to accomplish a particular goal for which we are looking.
A business owner in the highly-competitive information technology services sector provides a great example. When we initially met, he was excited about his business and told us about the initiatives he was implementing to promote growth. His company had plateaued, and he was ready to break the flat revenue pattern. One year after we met, he enthusiastically reported that every initiative worked perfectly. His operation was running well; his clients were the happiest they had ever been, and his employees were delighted.
So then we asked him the critical question: How was company revenue growth? That is when his voice dropped a bit, and his tone changed. He said, “Well, that was not so good.” Revenue was at the same level as last year because they had not solved their sales and marketing problem. Sadly, even though his new tactics were rolled out, the strategy behind those tactics was not well-considered, if even considered at all. So while his team’s attitude had changed, there was no positive impact on the profits. His team had spent long hours working on things that honestly did not matter. Strategically, they were still stuck!
Six Strategic Questions to Ask Constantly
Lack of strategy is an issue for many businesses: They focus on tactics, but not strategies. Everyone loves the moment where the rubber meets the road, but if those tires aren’t properly adjusted and connected, your vehicle will quickly fall apart. Strategies and tactics need to be harmoniously aligned. An excellent strategic discussion results in developing better ways of approaching your business. The very best leaders look at how hard everyone is working and then decide there must be a better way.
They require everyone to think about how they approach the business, projects, functions, and to ask questions like:
-What would need to happen to make our sales volume change?
-What would need to happen to inspire people to pay more for our products and services?
-How can we do this with fewer resources?
-How can we do this in less time?
-Why does it have to be done the way we are doing it?
-How can we do it faster, better, and cheaper?
It would be best if you stopped and continuously challenge your Leadership Team to answer these questions. This is what strategic thinking is all about. It is how new companies have emerged to be goliaths, and the market has expanded. When you don’t ask these questions, you miss the more significant opportunities and confuse being busy with being productive.
Not sure if you’ve got a strong strategy and the most effective tactics to implement it? Or is your organization being driven by tactics? At Activate Group, we can help you develop an effective strategy designed to achieve sustained revenue growth. To learn more about how we help you with this and many other issues, schedule your FREE 30-MINUTE CONSULTATION now. We look forward to being of service to you.