Monthly Archives: April 2013

Strategic vs. Tactical 80/20 Rule

“Does this mean that I won’t be able to do….?” is a question I frequently get when I discuss strategy with people. They are usually worried about not doing what they have found interesting. When someone has to follow a new strategy they often mourn the loss of the familiar, that they have grown to love doing.

This need not be a major issue for two reasons:

  1. Most people recognize that the strategy is really the best thing to do, despite the fact that they have been putting off doing it. Most people also get a lot of job satisfaction from knowing that they are doing the best job that they can do. If people start to do the best thing (in alignment with a new strategy) over time they will appreciate this and grow to love doing it the way that they loved doing what they used to do.
  2. There is always room for non-strategic work, otherwise called tactical work. Personally, I’ve always viewed there to be a 80 / 20 rule for strategic vs. tactical.

As an example of the latter point, my job is to lead a certain area of work. We have well over a 1000 people who actually implement one of the things that I lead. It would not be the best use of my time to try and do what they do because I am only one person, and they are 1000. The strategic part of my job is to figure out the best way of these 1000 people being led to provide the optimal end result. The trouble is that the reason I have ended up leading this team is because I have a passion for doing what they do, not for figuring out how to run a team. However, because I love to do what they do, I spend some time doing it personally as a single unit contributor. The important thing is that I still spend 80% of my time developing leadership of the 1000 people, and less than 20% trying to do their work myself.

Strategy does not mean that we stop everything. Strategy means that we spend the large majority of our effort pursuing the most important goal in the optimal fashion. This does leave room for doing something else for which you have a passion, or for learning to love doing what is most important in the best way 🙂

Want to attend yet another meeting?

Want another meeting? I’m sorry to day that is exactly what the 4th of the 4 Disciplines of Execution is.

So, is this optional?

No. This is not just another meeting. This is THE meeting each week to ensure that progress is being made on the single most important issue for the team. The Wildly Important Goal of which this meeting is the subject is the thing that, at the end of the year is THE one thing that must happen, even if all other things don’t happen. If anything is to be achieved this year, then the subject of this meeting is it.

Why would anything else be more important than the most important thing that needs to be achieved by the team? Of all of the meetings that you could attend or host this week, this is the ONE meeting that is the MUST.

Could these meetings be monthly? Yes, they could. However, if this WIG is the one thing that must happen this year, why would you want to wait a month before finding out that nothing had happened on this goal for the last month?

What Is Your Main Goal?

This week we used the 4 Disciplines of Execution tool to develop a laser like focus over the coming year on the single biggest goal that teams have to achieve.

However, coming up with the right goals for teams was not easy. When I worked in the commercial world the target was clear and constantly reinforced: maximize return on the investment of the shareholder. Everything that we did had to be traceable back to that point.

If you have leadership responsibility for a team or organization here are a few questions that you can use to see if you are setting yourself the best Wildly Important Goals:

  • What is the one thing that, at the end of the year we have to have seen happen, even if all the other things don’t happen as we might hope?
  • What is the raison d’etre for your team? Does your Wildly Important Goal relate directly to the reason for existence of the team or the part of the organization for which the team is directly responsible?
  • What is the Vision for the organization as it directly relates to me or my team?

This was not an easy exercise this week, but I hope that these questions help you identify the most important goals for your team.

Focus, Focus, Focus

There are always more good things that we could do than we have the capacity to do.

Strategy is the difference between doing things and doing the best things to do – and then doing them optimally.

I had the opportunity to try and help some of my colleagues over the last few weeks as they reviewed and further developed their strategies. The biggest things that hit me during the discussions were:

  1. Everyone wanted to do a lot of things, all of which are good and have great justifications.
  2. It is easy to draw up lists of things to do, and never to be worried that they get done.

Do you have a long list of things that you think that you will do?

What is your main objective? Which of the things on your list will most directly help you make progress towards your main objective?

Are you tracking your progress with those most important things, and are you doing them INSTEAD of some of the other things that you have on your list?

Remember, strategy can be defined as:

“the intelligent allocation of limited resources through a unique system of activities to outperform the competition in serving customers.”

Strategy is about recognition that there are limited resources, and maximizing what you have to achieve your objective. This means that non critical things will be dropped. This is OK. Don’t worry about dropping some things. Really. No, I mean really, don’t worry about that.