Vision, Strategy and Tactics – these terms are related but distinct. In general, these terms are used in relation with Project planning, organizational planning or entrepreneurship. But these terms are also applicable achieving any targets in life whether it is professional or personal.
Let’s understand need of these terms. To understand, let’s think how we achieved any goal or target in our life. Let’s consider any thing which we think as achievement or target whether it’s very small or big. It could be personal or professional. It could be completion of any assigned task, leading any project, coordinating any event, throwing any party, doing some social work, purchasing our own house, going for a long trip. To complete any of these works, we must have thought about – Why to do, what we want to do and How to do? These questions are nothing but Vision, Strategy and Tactics. For normal work also – we search answer of these questions, but we don’t consider these in terms of bigger words like Vision, Strategy and Tactics. Sometime our targets may achieve without consideration of any of these questions. But in this case, there is always a big risk associated for completion. This risk may cause – delay in completion, not completion as per defined objective or in the worst case completely collapse i.e. missing objective completely which may cause de-motivation to pursue any further targets or origin of perception that taken target was complex and required much efforts to complete. In more precise words, without a strategy and vision to guide our steps, we are on the risk of taking two steps forward, three back, four to the left and two in a circle. Effort is made, but it doesn’t ends up into desired progress.
It is also required to understand these elements to enable us for effective decision making and maintain balance between these three.
Let’s be more specific about these terms in following part.
Vision is our dream of the future. It is about to make a choice in the life. It outlines what we want to be. Some examples of organizational Vision Statements are:
– Google: To organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
– Amazon: To be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
– Sony: To have the world look to Sony for comprehensive entertainment
– Samsung: To lead the digital convergence movement
– BMW: To be the first successful premium manufacturer in the industry
These statements may sound abstract but let’s think why these are so. The vision for a company must be robust for years at a time. Technologies and trends come and go but a company must stay relevant regardless. For example, Goggle doesn’t mention search and Amazon doesn’t mention books. This is long term thinking and one can’t base his/her company around current technologies or trends. It’s about what we are doing for our customers. Vision is needed to keep us motivated on whatever we are doing and also to provide right direction. Whenever, we are in the difficult situation and decision making is not easy, it is Vision, which guides to move into the right direction and taking right decision.
Strategy is defined as our long-range plan to make the dream happen. It executes our ideas. It is adoptions of our courses of action and the allocation of resources necessary for carrying out long-term goals and objectives. Means the answer of question – How will we do it? Strategic work requires thought and discussion.
To achieve a vision there can be multiple strategies. For example to fulfill organizational vision strategies may include – business level strategies, people management strategies etc.
Multiple strategies to build a successful team could be – Defining targets and monitor them, Team Performance Management, Continuous Improvement, and Innovation approaches etc.
In project management – defining release plan is one of the strategic tasks. Here we define the boundary of the release which is a strategic decision.
Strategic work is difficult. It requires thought and discussion. Most important part it shall be in alignment with the vision.
Tactics are defined as the specific actions required to take to achieve our strategy. Tactics are the most flexible. If a tactic isn’t working, it can be adjusted and try again. It is often recommended to start with a vision and startegy then work down to the tactics. Tactical work mostly demands quick answer. It is very difficult to distinguish Tactics from Strategy. Most common way to explain the differences between strategy and tactics is a war analogy: a tactic is designed to win a battle and the strategy is designed to win the war.
Planning weekly meeting for collaborative improvement is a strategic task while conducting the meeting and generating useful idea is tactic. In the same way doing daily stand up meeting of the project is a strategic work while to finish it in 15 minutes only and conduct it in fruitful way is a tactical task. Doing planning is strategic but execution of the same on daily basis is tactical which includes action to handle cost and schedule variance, handling risk and uncertainties etc.
If the strategy is a hammer, the tactic is a nail. The actual end results are accomplished by the nail. If the nail isn’t hammered correctly then the battle is lost. Sometimes the hammer also misses the nail.
While strategy and tactics can and should change over time, vision is the anchor that holds the strategies and tactics together. As Tactics focus on short terms results so it must be efficient. While for Startegy, effectiveness is must.
As Effectiveness and Efficienency are major trailts of startegy and tactics. So I would like to explain impact of (Non)Effective and (Non)Efficient startegies and tactics in following figure:
THRIVE – Highly Effective & Highly Efficient
Can meet strategic targets earlier than anticipated.
SURVIVE – Highly Effective and Inefficient
Never attain the growth that they should be capable of.
DIE SLOWLY – Ineffective & Inefficient
Delivers poor result for several times and are in a state of steady decline before dying.
DIE QUICKLY – Ineffective & Highly Efficient
Everything going very well, but due to some wrong strategies there comes a state of rapid decline.
To achieve the situation of thrive we need to have effective strategies and efficient tactics. Means to have the right direction and the right actions to bridge the gap where we are now and where we want to be.