Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thinking Strategically (versus Tactically)

January always seems to be a month for owners of start-ups and established companies alike to reflect on their business.

Do I want this year to be different than last?

Do I want to deal with the same issues (people), have to overcome the same challenges (sales win-rate), work the same hours (long), have the same number of sleepless nights (too many)?

Most will know in their gut that a different outcome requires change.  And for this ever so brief period of time they are on the cusp of thinking strategically about their business.

But sadly, I have observed over and over again that they quickly revert to tactical thinking when searching for solutions. A new website. A new lead generation service. New CRM software. New social media initiatives ("we are going to be serious this year about blogging").  I have even witnessed an owner decide on the spot to invest in a booth design and commit to attending two expos as her solution to bolstering two previous years of lackluster sales. You can imagine the investment that tactical decision will cost.

Steven Covey in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, coined the phrase, "begin with the end in mind". He shared this lesson:

"Begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination.  It means to know where you're going so that you better understand where you are at now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction."

Here is my business interpretation of his lesson:

"Begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your strategic objectives.  It means to know what you want your business to look like in 3-years (sales, operations, people) and, based on where you stand today, be certain the tactical decisions you make are always in-line with the strategic plan."

I have observed that most business owners are fairly comfortable thinking tactically. In fact they thrive on it. There is nothing that makes them feel better about themselves and their role in the company than solving a tactical problem. Strategic thinking, however, is a less common trait.

I was going to write about what it takes to think strategically but I found an author who nailed this topic.  Paul Shoemaker of Wharton's Mack Institute identifies and shares the "6 Habits of True Strategic Thinkers" in this outstanding Inc. article.

Strategically plotting a point on the horizon for your business and letting that be the beacon to guide tactical decisions is how business growth is most efficiently achieved.

Want to build a growth strategy for your metro Atlanta, Georgia business?  Let's discuss this over a cup of coffee.  Contact me here.

About the author. Mike Gomez is President of Allegro Consulting, a growth specialty firm helping businesses plan and execute aggressive growth strategies. He grew his very first client’s business from $8M to $35M in just two years. Mike is a strategist, sales process evangelist, prolific speaker, writer, three-time marathoner, a former military officer and pilot of both aircraft and helicopters. He is also a mentor at Atlanta Tech Village and Four Athens Tech Incubator.