Following on last week’s post examining the roles of strategy and opportunity in career planning and business development, today considers strategy vs. tactics. Assuming that you find value in applying strategy to your own efforts rather than drifting along and hoping for the best, step one is to set the strategy. Obvious, right? Well…
We tend to use the words “strategy” and “tactics” more or less interchangeably. Litigators refer to trial strategy or the tactical approach, for example, to mean roughly the same thing. However, using those words more precisely would generate “tactics” that are short-term or intermediate steps designed to implement the “strategy,” meaning the long-term plan.
Pop quiz: grab a pen and paper and take no more than 60 seconds to list all of the tactics you’re using for business development, professional development, or career planning. You might list things like speaking at a CLE conference, attending a NITA workshop, or being active with a local bar association. List as many as you can in the 60 seconds, and include the tactics you’d like to implement, even if you haven’t done so already.
Done? Great! Now, take 60 seconds and list all of the strategies you have in the same endeavor. Taking client development as an example, maybe your strategy is to be the premier immigration lawyer for the Hispanic community in your region. What strategies are you working on?
If you’re like many lawyers, your tactics list will be long, and your strategies list short or nonexistent. Why does it matter? Because no matter how terrific your tactics may be, if your strategy isn’t clearly defined, you may not get the results you’re seeking. However well you may climb on the “ladder of success,” you’ll end up where you want to be only if your ladder is propped against the right wall, to use Stephen Covey’s terrific analogy.
So, make it a point to pause and set your strategy… And then to identify the tactics you’ll use to get there.