Home My Blog Management Would You Rather Be Tactical or Strategic?

Would You Rather Be Tactical or Strategic?

Author: Larry Chester, President

Aside from whatever emotional feelings you might have about those two words, your decision likely reflects the way you run your business. The issue isn’t just about the emotion, it’s about how you lead, think, problem solve and ultimately, how you run your company. And to be honest, neither choice is wrong. But how you answer that question impacts how you deal with the problems and issues everyone faces at your company. Let’s look at this from some different directions.

TIMEFRAME – Is the result immediate, or is it far reaching?
SIGNIFICANCE – Is it practical, or is it thoughtful?
IMPORTANCE – Does it affect a single transaction type, or the future of the company?

Both of these types of decisions are important and need to be made. The results of your decisions have an immediate impact or a delayed one. They will either direct how a specific activity is done, or they will have a broader impact on the company that will change things in the future. Either way, the decision matters. The difference is when you will see the results.

As the owner of a business, you will be making both kinds of decisions. Some will impact an individual client, task, project, employee – these are Tactical. Some will determine the direction of the company’s marketing efforts, sales, product mix, geographic distribution, financial growth and plans – these are Strategic.

  • Tactical Decisions – These are going to be made mostly by middle managers. Tactical decisions relate to things that happen in your company now. These decisions involve immediate operational and financial issues that affect the movement of money and product in the present and the near future. Tactical decisions relate to how inventory is received, how product moves on an assembly line, quality control inspections, storage of product, shipping of merchandise, invoicing of orders, receipt of payments, managing your banking relationship, and the relationship between your company, suppliers and customers.
  • Strategic Decisions – These are going to be made by senior staff. They determine the future direction of your company and how you’re going to get there. These decisions help define your market and how you serve it, whether you buy and sell domestically or internationally, what products or service mix you provide to the marketplace, how you’re going to deal with your customers and vendors, and whether you borrow money to grow or grow from your profits.

How do each of those decisions impact on your customers, your suppliers, your employees? Do the decisions you make give your employees an understanding of what you want them to do in any of these situations?

Tactical decisions relate more to the “how” of an actual operation and today’s activities. Strategic decisions relate more to “why” the operation is done and how you move into the future.

So that leads to this question: Do you primarily make decisions to affect today’s operations, or do you make decisions to set a future direction? Do you make decisions to set procedures and policies that give your employees and staff the freedom to take the next step on their own? Are those decisions part of an overall plan that sets the WAY your company operates and WHERE it’s going?

If your decisions are primarily Tactical, then you have decided that you want each of those decisions passed through you. You have not given your staff the freedom to act. The end result is that you will be required to spend more time dealing with and managing the day to day operations of your company, rather than planning on what you want your company to become.

If your decisions are Strategic, you are directing the manner in which your company operates, and you are providing a platform for decision making that can be followed by employees and staff when you’re not there. They can mirror your approach because you have explained to them WHY you want the company operated in a particular manner, and how it impacts the future.

It’s all in your hands.


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