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Friday, June 05, 2009

The Difference Between Strategy and Tactics

For many organizations, strategy (the "why we're going to do what we're doing") is one of those mysterious, behind-closed-doors activities conducted annually by a small group of senior leaders. It's viewed as a superior mental and managerial activity.

In contrast, tactics (the "how we're going to do what we're supposed to do" - the execution element) is typically thought of as the grunt work, relegated to and performed by the rest of the organization. Yet, it's these tactics - the focused activities performed by every person, every day - which are the difference between organizations that perform predictably and consistently - and those that don't.

It shouldn't surprise anyone, then, that:

  • Less than 10% of even well-formulated strategies are successfully executed
  • Only 5% of employees understand their organization's strategy
  • Only 3% of executives think their company is successful at executing their strategies
  • And that "excellence of execution" is the #1 top challenge of CEOs worldwide
Strategy forumation (selecting the right long-term objectives and envisioning a way to get there) -- AND consistent execution -- are the greatest sets of skills any organization can develop. And, successful organizations need BOTH skills.

BOTTOMLINE: Building an organization that can develop strategy, plan (formulating tactics) and execute is not easy. Developing and executing a strategy that's balanced in growth and profitability is extremely difficult - and is therefore rare. And what is rare, is considered valuable. It's time to seek out a revolutionary new approach to the oldest and most difficult challenge in business - one that focuses on the much harder of the two (execution).

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