Strategy and tactics are complementary. Both are needed to achieve goals, and neither works well without the other. While strategies tend to remain unchanged for long periods, tactics often evolve in reaction to changing circumstances or unforeseen obstacles.
In “Good Strategy, Bad Strategy,” Richard Rumelt writes: “The most basic idea of strategy is the application of strength against weakness; or if you prefer, strength applied to the most promising opportunity. A good strategy doesn’t just draw on existing strength; it creates strength.”
Successful strategy execution depends on choosing tactics that reinforce and build strength as they are deployed, not deplete it. Such tactics are agile when the need for strength creation is preserved as they are adapted in response to situational realities; reacting in urgency to such a situation, without due consideration for your goal and strategy objective, could inadvertently lead to deploying a revised tactic that undermines your strategy.
As strategies unfold, and tactics evolve, it’s vital to keep winning the hearts and minds of your people who are implementing the tactics. They represent one of the strengths being leveraged to implement your strategies. Be transparent about progress and challenges. Keep them updated, and engaged in adapting tactics when necessary, explaining what changes are necessary and why. This will boost their support for the strategy, making it stronger.
While the overall goal, and strategy to achieve it, remain stable, the tactics taken to implement the strategy must be agile enough to adjust to short-term realities that may arise. This allows you to pivot as needed, choosing the right tactics for the situation, to achieve your larger, strategic goals in a manner that creates strength.
How do you ensure that your tactics are agile?