December 1, 2017

Have you tried everything and nothing seems to work?

One of the most misunderstood terms that comes up in my coaching work is the word “strategy”.

It’s quite common for folks to ask something like:

“Is blogging every week a good strategy?”

Blogging is a tactic.

Whether it’s good or bad depends on your strategy.

And whether your strategy is good or bad depends on your objective.

Here are my definitions of these three core terms:

Objective: A desired outcome. For example, “Destroy the Death Star.”

Strategy: A concise, high-level approach for reaching an objective using various tactics. For example: “Take the Empire off guard by sending an absurdly small force to exploit a critical vulnerability.”

Tactics: Specific, individual steps used to execute a Strategy and reach an Objective. For example, “Send 3 small squadrons of x-wings. Get close to surface of the space station and head for the exhaust port. Stay deep in the approach trench to avoid surface guns. Once the TIE fighters show up, have two x-wings flank the leader and defend against enemy fire...”

(So… when Luke shuts of his targeting computer in favor of using The Force, he was making a tactical decision. The strategy and objective were unchanged.)

In my experience, most people are jumping around from tactic to tactic without any clear strategy.

Having a strategy gives you a basis for making decisions about what actions to take. Without a strategy you have no framework for decision making.

It’s like being the captain of a ship that has no rudder and yelling at sailors to raise the sails and swab the deck and batten the hatches and bail the hold...

There’s lots of activity but no direction. Everybody working hard but getting no closer to land. Getting tossed around the ocean, seemingly at the mercy of natural forces.

If you feel like you’ve tried everything and nothing’s working, you probably lack a clear strategy.