It’s always fun to work with clients as they look ahead to what they want their organization to be and do three to five years down the road.  We cannot stay the same as we are today, no matter how great we are, as everything is changing around us at increasing speed — technology, culture & society, economics & politics, learning & education, everything!  It is so easy for us to get into the weeds and focus on the urgent instead of the important or critical, the trees instead of the forest.  Understanding our world-wide environment, our industry, our community, our organization — the big picture, is crucial to envisioning a preferred future, one where our organization excels.  And once we have that picture of our preferred future in our heads, described in words on paper and/or in drawings, then we build the strategies to make that happen.  Our accelerated planning process helps organizations do just that.  However, it is always a challenge staying on the higher level and dealing with strategies and not getting down to the tactics until the strategies are in place.  We tell our clients that strategic or direction planning is an iterative exercise — and this great article by Jeremiah Owyang on the difference between strategies and tactics definitely points that out why you have to go back and forth between strategies and tactics to make sure everything is aligned.   I had the pleasure of spending time with Jeremiah when he was a keynote speaker for KMWorld 2011 in DC — great guy & interesting writings.  Here’s his wonderful chart:

Breakdown: The Difference between Strategy and Tactics 

Strategy Tactics
Purpose To identify clear broader goals that advance the overall organization and organize resources. To utilize specific resources to achieve sub-goals that support the defined mission.
Roles Individuals who influence resources in the organization. They understand how a set of tactics work together to achieve goals. Specific domain experts that maneuver limited resources into actions to achieve a set of goals.
Accountability Held accountable to overall health of organization. Held accountable to specific resources assigned.
Scope All the resources within the organizations, as well as broader market conditions including competitors, customers, and economy.  Yet don’t over think it, to paraphrase my business partner Charlene Li, “Strategy is often what you don’t do”. A subset of resources used in a plan or process. Tactics are often specific tactics with limited resources to achieve broader goals.
Duration Long Term, changes infrequently. Shorter Term, flexible to specific market conditions.
 Methods Uses experience, research, analysis, thinking, then communication. Uses experiences, best practices, plans, processes, and teams.
 Outputs Produces clear organizational goals, plans, maps, guideposts, and key performance measurements. Produces clear deliverables and outputs using people, tools, time.

“Organizations need big wings (strategic thinking) and feet (capability to achieve).”  For sure!