Strategic vs. Tactical: Let’s Align

Effective leadership requires a balanced attention to strategic and tactical requirements and outcomes. Strategy and tactics are two different and distinct business functions and practices. An easy way to remember the difference is that strategy is doing the right thing. Tactics enable us to do things the right way. Obviously, the tactics should be aligned with the strategy.

Strategic planning facilitators are accountable for increasing the strategic intelligence of the credit union and increasing forward thinking. Future-oriented visions support your credit union in these ways.

  • Building a learning culture
  • Increasing futuristic thinking
  • Solving problems before the problem knocks on the door
  • Expanding capacity for making the right decisions
  • Recognizing emerging trends and patterns
  • Understanding what possible future events may impact your business model
  • Predicting potential problems
  • Foreseeing the outcome of planned projects
  • Developing and deploying sound backup strategies
  • Planning future growth, typically within 3 – 5 years, that is aligned with the mission, vision, and values.

Organizations strive for an operating model that leverages the competence of its team members. Technically, superb strategic plans are built at spring and fall strategic planning sessions and, for many organizations, fall short of effective deployment. Many employees still do not have clarity on how their role aligns with strategy. Therefore, there is a good chance that the tactics may not proactively support the larger strategic vision in pursuit of excellence.

Relevant strategic planning and tactical actions align with organization excellence. Tactical intelligence is in the here and now—today—by providing:

  • Analysis of competitive conditions
  • Steps to remain competitive and relevant
  • Actions to fulfill strategic objectives
  • Accountability assignments to fulfill strategic objectives
  • Most efficient use of current resources to achieve strategy
  • Most efficient use of resources to manage risks and challenges related to strategic plans
  • Short-term orientation, typically within a year

Board members often declare that they will be more strategic and look for ways to shift their perspective on what “strategic” means in the form of board leadership. Distinguishing between a tactical versus a strategic conversation and decision type is a learned skill that strategic planning facilitators and CEOs can utilize to support the board members. When a board member starts to go tactical, a gentle nudge back to the strategic path is necessary.

Tactical leadership requires analysis and action. Tactical plans are typically smaller in scale, short range, and serve a larger purpose. Strategic leadership requires the art and science of communicating a compelling vision and the enlistment of broad support for developing longer-range plans in service of the greater vision.

Historically, too many organizational cultures have focused on results-oriented management in service of the customer or member—and such an approach often persists today. Buzz terms, such as “efficiency,” “measurable,” “rational,” “service oriented,” and “bottom-line-oriented,” are explicit in planning processes. Forward thinking in strategic planning is gradually being elevated. This higher-level strategic thinking at the board and executive level is conducive to a strong strategic partnership.

Organizational excellence is sustainable with a strategic partnership between the “thinkers” and the “tacticians.” The “thinkers” are entrusted with, and accountable for, the use of credit union data to make strategic decisions to direct the company into the future. Tactical intelligence requires company-wide attention across multiple functional areas.

Move into your spring strategic planning session with the right people in the right roles with effective coordination, collaboration, and communication. Strive for organizational excellence by seeking to increase strategic and tactical intelligence.