Big Red Car here in a Grammy swoon. Didn’t watch them at all. Sorry.
The BRC got a lot of emails about — the difference amongst Strategy, Tactics, Objectives.
I sent the emailers here: Strategy v Tactics v Objectives for Startups << link.
Somebody wrote to me, “That’s simple, BRC. Can you make it even simpler? Please?”
Huh? Go read that. It’s pretty damn simple, but being the accommodating chap I am, here goes.
Know the terms
You can’t really talk about stuff unless you know what the words mean. I am amazed at the people I think are smart as whips who really don’t get the differences. It is why you don’t want to take too much advice from people who have never been CEOs.
Read the above blog post, but if you don’t here is the essence of things. [Go read the damn thing. It’ll take three minutes. Starting now.]
Strategy is the view from 30,000 feet. From that altitude, you can see the horizon and the significant terrain features. You can differentiate the mountains, rivers, lakes, oceans, and plains. From this perspective you can create a general plan.
Tactics is the view from 10,000 feet. From that altitude, you can see how high the mountains are, how deep the rivers are, and how wide the plains are. You can also see a mountain pass or a river crossing. If there is no river crossing, then you may have to build a bridge.
Objectives is the view from the boot tops — boots on the ground. It is where the mud and the concrete meet. It is where sweat is created. It is where you smell the future. Objectives are the things that will be assigned to individuals to accomplish.
Here’s a bit of alt thinking. (Alternative, y’all. Haha.)
Strategy is the undertaking of the entire company as guided by the CEO and the founders. These are the “leaders.” The leaders create and own the strategy and communicate it — regularly — to the managers and team. The CEO owns the strategy.
Tactics are the byproduct of strategy and are the undertaking of departments or functions and managers. Managers may also be leaders, but this is the discipline orientation. Managers own the tactics subject to approval from the CEO.
Objectives are the undertakings of individuals. If you sum all the objectives of a department, then you should be able to see the tactics taking shape. This is called “walking the cat backwards.” Individuals own their objectives and their job description (Basis of Employment, search the site) and this is the basis upon which their performance will be evaluated. Managers oversee the efforts of their subordinates in accomplishing them.
Here’s yet another way of visualizing the program. Think of a company as a working whole, a body.
The strategy is the brain and the organs. It provides the intellectual rigor and the energy to run the body.
Tactics the skeleton which supports and protects the brain and organs.
Objectives are the musculature, skin, and feet/hands which do the actual work.
Enough. Can you now differentiate amongst Strategy, Tactics, and Objectives? Yes, you can.
How do we get started, Big Red Car?
Sometimes, the most obvious things can be mysterious. Here it is.
Decide where you want to be in five years. Pick a time frame that works for you. You may want to pick different time frames. Your choice.
Ask yourself, “What kind of company do I want to be running in five years?”
Now, write the story of what it will take to get there. That is strategy and that is strategic thinking. Not much to it when you break it down that way.
That’s all there is to it. Now, go do it.
Details, always the damn details
Two details I want to share with you.
First, the entire notion of accountability in a well run company is created by the reality of objectives. You hire people to handle specific objectives. When a department or function is not getting its work done — meaning they are not accomplishing their objectives — you add bayonet strength to that department or function. (Hire more people.)
You grade your people on objectives, not style and not whether they have a good recipe for bean dip for the Friday afternoon keg.
Second, all of this is words on paper. [Oh, did I forget to tell you to write this stuff down? Haha, silly Big Red Car.] You can change it. I find CEOs all the time who are scared crapless to commit to a plan because they don’t want to let the world see their aspirations.
Put it on paper. Review it every six months. Do not be afraid to change it. Look back at what you have accomplished every year. In three years, you will be amazed. Trust me on this one.
It starts with writing this stuff down.
The Vision, Mission thing, Big Red Car?
I was just about out and you draw me back in again. The Vision and Mission are the drivers which are necessary to create the Strategy. The Vision is the answer to, “What problem of mankind, what pain point am I going to solve?”
The Mission is the conversion of the Vision in to a road march order for the team before you even tackle Strategy.
I was that damn close. Now, I must leave.
And, that, dear reader, is the Big Red Car’s view on things. But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Do some of this stuff. Put it in writing. Print it and stick it in the freezer for a night and then read it again. Hey, you’re pretty damn good. Now, be good to yourself.