Are you operating without a strategy or strategies? Are you operating on a “wing and a prayer” basis? There is a better way.
Do you have a clear idea about what the word strategy means and, more importantly, what it means to you? Is a strategy above tactics or is it below tactics and does it matter? Come to think of it, what the heck are tactics anyway? Don’t even mention mission statements.
This article is the fifth part in my Success Formula series. If you haven’t already read it why not check out the first article here?
The fourth element in my success formula is termed strategy.
Let’s look at defining strategy, tactics and mission statements so you can begin to work more effectively in pursuit of your success goals. Many people associate complicated sounding ideas like strategies with faceless corporate entities. You however are not a faceless corporate entity. You are real warm-blooded human who is looking to succeed with life in general and in the various parts which make up your life, relationships and work.
For myself and my clients, the way I define all three terms is as follows:
- Mission = Why you are doing something.
- Strategy = What you are going to do to achieve that something
- Tactics = How (+ when + where + who) you are going to achieve that something.
It looks simple and it really is simple. It is also powerful. In my experience, your strategies are the most crucial elements to get right.
Perhaps an example might help. Suppose you want to lose weight. You know all about great goal setting, so you select the positive and highly specific goal of losing 10 kg in three months. Great, that is now your mission.
If you decide to lose the weight by going to the gym, getting a personal trainer and starting a diet, then these three things have become your strategies for achieving your weight loss mission.
Selecting a gym, deciding on a weight-lifting program, finding and booking a personal trainer, getting new sports shoes and sorting out which specific diet to use are some of the many potential tactics you might use to achieve your three strategies.
So, you can have multiple strategies for one mission and multiple tactics for every strategy.
Why is strategy the important one?
In the weight loss example given above, the strategies you choose are critical to your success. Going to the gym has been a great strategy for many people over the years. If you are not a fan of the gym, however, then choosing the gym as one of your strategies will put you on the back foot straight away and you will almost certainly fail. Choose a weight loss strategy which will work for you. The tactics will then sort themselves out.
Just applying different and random tactics will not accomplish the mission.
Mission informs strategy. Strategy directs tactics. Strategy is vital.
Take the time to pick the best strategies for you because this will give you the best overall chance of success.
The next idea is one where people often get bogged down. Missions, strategies and tactics can all be nested. They can cascade from the top down. One person’s tactic will become someone else’s mission statement, depending on where they are in the organisation.
Here I will use an organisational example to illustrate this idea. Big Dream Industries develops a mission statement which states the organisation will be the, “Biggest dream manufacturer in the world.” The two strategies they choose to adopt are to buy up as many of their competitors as possible and double the output of every plant they currently own. Their tactics are to raise funding to buy competitors, start to invest in new equipment and make efficiency savings in existing plants.
All the above constitutes a top-level mission statement with top-level strategies and tactics. The tactic of raising funding to buy competitors would now be passed along to finance and development department and would in effect become their mission statement. They would then create strategies and tactics of their own to try and achieve their goal. The tactics they chose, for example wooing venture capitalists, would then become someone else’s mission statement, and so on and so forth.
Hopefully the diagram above helps make it sensible enough.
There is a very good reason why this nesting idea is important for you. You can start to design your mission, strategy and tactical plans on a modular basis with greater structural integrity right from the start, you can more easily review and identify weak areas and you can cope more confidently with setbacks.
Let’s look at an example of a setback and how you might deal with it.
You have set up your plans and goals carefully and hopefully you are continually monitoring the situation for any changes or issues. When things go off track in certain areas, as they inevitably will, the key factor is how you evaluate the disruption within the context of your top-level mission.
Three major social media (SM) platforms recently made substantial changes to their monetisation policies and algorithms: YouTube, Facebook & Instagram. Any of the major SM platforms can make changes and any can shut down completely in the future so let’s use a scenario like this for our example.
Suppose you have a business which relies heavily on lead and list generation to enable you to sell products to those leads you collect. One of the platforms you use is a popular SM platform, let’s call the SM platform FaceLinkInstaPinterTube or FLIPT for short. Over 30% of your leads come from FLIPT, but they have just gone belly up. You have invested a lot of time, effort and money into building up your FLIPT presence. How will you make up those missing leads? What are you going to do?
The power of strategy
Well, you could run around like a headless chicken screaming about how unfair life is. You could be crying about the imminent demise of your business. Or you could carefully examine your business mission breakdown. This would enable you to see the real impact and discover or design ways to improve the situation.
Your mission statement about world business domination is still intact. You had several strategies linked to this mission: Build an email list organically via blogging, build a FLIPT community and build communities on other SM platforms. You realise you have lost a complete lead collecting strategy; 30% of your lead generating capacity is gone. Your tactic for the remaining strategies has been to write some sporadic article posts on various blogs and reproduce your FLIPT method on several other SM platforms. It doesn’t look too good right now.
You have taken an uncomfortable hit in terms of lead loss but at least it is only 30%. Bear in mind, your competitors will also have been hit and hit hard by the collapse of FLIPT. What you do have right now is a clear insight into the structure of your business plan and the fact that it has an identical weakness built right into it. You really could lose it all if more platforms fold or change their business models. Your strategies are the issue.
You can now use this information to either beef up your existing strategies to make up the shortfall or add in several new strategies. Make some of the new strategies quick fix cash generators, and make some longer term strategies designed to make your business more robust and resistant to setbacks in the future.
You really need to know why you are doing the thing you are doing so you then know what you are going to do to achieve that something which leads to how, when, where and with whom you are going to go about doing it all. In my experience, the “what you are going to do” or your strategy is the most important.
Remember, mission informs strategy. Strategy directs tactics. Strategy is vital.
Thinking in terms of nested and modular missions, strategies and tactics will give you and your plans huge flexibility and resilience.
I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful.
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