Once upon a time there was an organization with two executives named Strategy and Tactics. Strategy was a visionary. She inspired the associates with optimism towards a better future as well as the culture and values they would live by. Strategy was always known for her ability to connect with others. However, her lack of follow-through kept her vision from becoming reality -- until she hired Tactics.

Although Tactics was not known for his speeches, he was known for being part of a number of positive turnaround situations. He always worked for leaders with great vision because he complemented those leaders well. Tactics knew that leaders like Strategy were more interested with "what" the future could be and not "how" to get there. When Tactics arrived for his first day of work, he asked for an all-day meeting with Strategy as soon as possible. At the meeting, he wanted her to know that strategy alone was not good enough and then outlined his recommendations for effective planning, implementation and follow-through:

1) Develop tactical plans by department or business unit that follow Strategy's vision and include implementation milestones and objectives. Plans will be achievable, simple and have no more than 5 key initiatives that would advance the company towards achieving the vision. We will no longer accept that a promise is the same thing as an implementation plan.

2) Tactical implementation and follow-through will be inclusive and crossfunctional. However participation will be relevant to the participant to ensure we don't overcommit and underdeliver.

3) Implementation initiatives will be ready to "go live" on January 1 if at all possible which will require up-front preparation before year-end. Tactics learned his lesson a few years ago when the executives believed it was very achievable to increase revenues by 20% if they put their growth plan in place. Tactics did put a growth plan in place but not until April. The company averaged a 21% growth in revenues for the last three quarters but only an 8% revenue increase for the first quarter. That 17.75% increase for the year was an accomplishment to be proud of but less than the 20% company goal which was also the trigger point for his year-end bonus.

4) Progress on implementation objectives, milestones and plans will be reported on a quarterly basis at the minimum. Quarterly, Tactics will assess the overall progress vs. Strategy's vision and provide an outlook for further advancements in achieving the vision. In the past we have not been as successful as we could've been if we had committed to timely assessments of our progress in implementing our plans.

Strategy listened intently to this feedback and then glared at Tactics like she was going to make this his last day. Then she said, "What I heard is that strategy without tactics is just an empty promise." Strategy and Tactics went on to develop quite a partnership and achieve their goals happily ever after.


© Michael R. Goodfriend, Goodfriend & Associates, Inc., 2000

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