Talking Tactics

We’ve all been in meetings that have been taken off track with an accusation that “we’ve gone in the weeds” by talking tactics, not strategy. But, as someone who spends a good deal of time in the world of strategy, I have to admit: I like talking tactics.

Tactics are… tactile.

There is an obvious value in strategy. It’s where game-changing priorities can be set. Where meaningful connections can be made. And where important investments can be justified.

But when we talk strategy, we speak at a high level. At that high level, details are – by necessity – left undefined. Conversations that seem to be on the same page can, in reality, can be all over the proverbial white board.

I believe that it’s never too early to talk tactics. Doing so can even help refine strategy – by allowing for tangible examples. So don’t fear talking tactics. Just follow these simple rules:

  1. Stay honest. Be clear you’re indeed talking about a tactic. Tactics aren’t bad. They just aren’t strategies. Like a strategy, they are a means towards an end. But they have the benefit of usually leaving less room for interpretation.
  2. Stay flexible. Don’t get attached too early. There is more than one way to skin a cat. The tactics are the ways. The strategy is the skinning. Don’t need to skin a cat? There are tactics for that, too.
  3. Stay respectful of the bigger picture. Value the strategy. Don’t sacrifice it in the name of a tactic. Just know that the more comfortable you can be giving both a seat at the table, the better the end result.

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