"You can't solve a problem at the same level that it is created.
You have to rise above it to the next level."
Successful companies are those that focus their efforts on the priorities that really matter. According to George Day, in Market Driven Strategy: Processes for Creating Value (1990), strategies are directional statements, not detailed step-by-step action plans. Both are important. But before action plans can be developed, there must be vision, decision and commitment. Strategy reflects the key choices that a business must make in order to engage the market place:
" A sound strategy is a directional statement
—not a fixed location
— that describes the array of choices a firm makes to deliver a particular value proposition to a target group of customers. It includes the distinctive configuration of activities, processes, and investments that the firm deploys to gain a competitive advantage. Everyone in the organization contributes to the strategy, which makes it difficult to condense a strategy into a few snappy shorthand phrases." (p. x)
Of the myriad choices that a business must make, there are certain key choices that will determine an enterprise's destiny. These choices are the subject of business strategy, and are the primary concern of an executive team:
— business definition, market definition, target segments
— general strategy emphasis, target competitors, positioning theme, programs & projects, proprietary value
— appropriate scale, scope, alliances
— ownership and control of channels, variety of channels, communication mix.
Strategy must be able to answer:
- What are the sources of the company's sustainable competitive advantage? What is the company's value proposition in products, services and business structure?
- How can the company position itself in the market over the long run to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage?
- What are the key strategic priorities for the enterprise?
In recent business management history there have been at least ten major schools of strategy development — as outlined in the book, Strategy Safari: A Guided Tour Through the Wilds of Strategic Management (1998) by Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand and Joseph Lampel. On his website, Vadim Kotelnikov, provides a brief summary of these approaches to strategic management. The overview is helpful in pushing past a narrow view of a popular strategy technique or management theory, toward a broader systems point of view:
||"Look before you leap."
||"A stitch in time saves nine."
||"Nothing but the facts."
||"Take us to your leader" .
||Cope or Create
||"I'll see it when I believe it."
||"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."
||"Look out for number one".
||"An apple never falls far from the tree."
||"It all depends."
||"For everything there is a season."
Strategy & Tactics
Strategy describes "what," while tactics describe "how to." Tactics are the things you do to implement a strategy. Therefore, it is not that tactics are less important than strategy. Tactics link strategy and operations. Without tactics there would be no effective implementation, operations or systems development.
It is a matter of properly setting context
— if you do not have a strategy in place (planning, values, decisions, view), then tactical planning and decisions will most probably be ill-conceived and misdirected in the long-term. In this way, tactics divorced from strategy is a blind force — a blunt instrument — that fosters immense societal-ethical conflicts (such as, "winning" for winnings sake without regard to social justice or fair business practice; opportunism driven solely by greed or power without regard to the social, industry or business consequences).
Strategy provides the framework which guides the choices that determine the methods, nature and direction to attain an objective.
©2003 Cognitive Design Solutions, Inc.