Strategic vs Tactical Planning
The amount of money spent on improvement and training each year is immense. The purpose of the investment is to acquire specific skills that will improve results and outcomes. Most improvement offerings are about how to do specific things better in order to be more effective. In sales training, this might involve learning how to write a more powerful cold-call letter or overcome objections. For a manager, tactical skills might involve learning how to better lead meetings or serve as a mentor. Personally, we might take classes to cook healthier meals or better manage household finances. These are all ways to become more tactically effective.
Throughout my career, however, I have learned that a better improvement objective is for people to become more strategically effective. This means acquiring new ways of thinking, not just new ways of doing things. And specifically, for the purposes of Strategic Life Planning, I'm talking about new ways to think about clarity.
A shift from focusing on the tactical to focusing on the strategic is a change of mind-set that has far-reaching effects and benefits, instead of a "one-off" approach that has short-term reach. For example, instead of writing a better pitch letter, a sales rep would learn how to put his mind into that of his customer and to truly relate and build rapport. A manager would become a self-assured leader and mentor. A parent would provide a lifestyle of smart money management and healthy choices. It's about wholesale changes in philosophy and priorities. It's about clarity of the what and the why.
Consequences of Not Having Clarity
My nature is to be a positive encourager, so I don't want to dwell too much on the negative. However, we all have experienced setbacks at some time in our lives, and it is a reality that must be considered. There are lots of reasons traditionally given for not reaching our goals, but many of them are just symptoms of a deeper root cause: a lack of clarity. Here are three symptoms of poor clarity:
- People don't believe they can do what they have to do: For example, when sports teams enter a championship game, a team that does not believe it can win will not win. In the same way, people must believe they can execute a vision, or they will not be able to do it. When you don't believe you can do what you have to do, it means you don't believe in yourself or your vision. This means that you don't have clarity about what you really want.
- People use planning to avoid taking action: Preparation and planning are important, but excessive preparation is nothing more than procrastination. It is only when you start doing what you need to do that you can begin to produce results. If you procrastinate, it often means you are fearful of failure and may not be confident of your ability to succeed. Clarity destroys procrastination because the action you need to take is vividly clear. It pulls you forward and eliminates the need to be pushed. Procrastination is a primary symptom of the need to push or be pushed.
- People quit or give up in the face of adversity or difficulty: It is always easy to quit, and too many people prefer quitting to the discomfort they experience when the going gets tough. The reason is simple: Adversity is painful. For example, businesses that lack the perseverance to be competitive in a rapidly changing economy will have serious problems. When you quit in the face of adversity, it means you are deficient in the mental substance it takes to persevere and overcome. Clarity is the missing ingredient.
All three of these reasons for failure are the result of a mental approach that suffers from a lack of clarity. Therefore, the single most significant thing you can do to ensure against failure is to achieve clarity.
When a plan or strategy goes sour and the results are less than expected, the planners soon find themselves trying to explain how it happened. What usually follows are lengthy bouts of what I call "if-then" thinking. "If I had known this, then I could've/ should've/ would've done that." "If-then" thinking is the direct result of poor clarity. Having clarity during any planning process will significantly reduce the incidence of "if-then" thinking because the plan is more likely to be executed successfully. So, if clarity is the solution, you have to ask if there is a factual way to know you have it. Fortunately, the answer is yes, it is a verifiable condition.
Many people believe they have clarity when they have produced goals and have worked out the necessary action steps. These tools are important, but they are more directly related to your ability to focus and keep that focus on the main things. You must know two points to produce clarity:
- Where you want to be when your vision becomes reality
- An objective understanding of current conditions
These two points must be described in words that can be easily understood, and they must be wrapped with understanding the "why." You must understand why you want to go where you want to go, and you must understand why you are where you are today. To learn more, you can check out Strategic vs Tactical Planning.
No related posts.