January 27, 2020 · strategy tactics

Tactical Myopia

We all heard the mantra: “No plan can survive contact with reality.” Is strategy really less important than tactics?

When you are in the trenches, everything is tactical. You are just focusing on a single and simple goal. The tactical mode requires a bias towards action, a bias toward execution. Because that’s how you achieve your goals - by executing.

Stay long enough in trenches and you began to wonder what good the strategy is. Because it does not have an immediate impact on your execution. It does not exactly help you achieve your immediate targets. And, sure, sometimes the plans fail. Then you start to believe that old saying: “no plan can survive contact with reality.”

Execution is important. But this mantra is used to make not planning okay. Reports of the death of the strategy are greatly exaggerated.

Without a plan, you don’t know where you are going. You are doing a lot. You are creating a lot of movement. But do all that activity translate into progress? Are your actions purposeful?

The strategy creates the purpose for the actions. Without a strategy, without a plan, you are just acting - not achieving. It feels like you are achieving something when you are in tactical mode, sure. But in the grand scheme of things, you are not creating progress.

I saw this tactical myopia a lot. I saw organizations killing themselves with a lot of meaningless activity. Because every action has a resource cost and an opportunity cost. Any action done without understanding “why of movement” might mean a great loss.

"Movement" and "progress" are easy to confuse but mean different things.

Please, when you are doing something, stop and ask yourself: Is this helping our goals? Or are you doing it just because to do it? “We just need another blog post out” is the bane of our existence. Can you do something that would help more than checking a box? And if you can’t even answer your question because there are no goals, maybe stop and set some goals first.

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