Tactical vs Strategic work

Every organization has both tactical and strategic work. Tactical work tends to be routine; strategic initiatives represent new direction. Both are important and the leader must consider both.

Tactical work is done through systems (also called operations). When strategic initiatives are accepted into the organization, they should eventually be systematized.

Let’s compare tactical work with strategic initiatives.

Tactical work

Some tactical work is maintenance/custodial in nature—it is required for things to continue running smoothly, but it doesn’t necessarily move the organization forward; it is necessary but insufficient. Neglect maintenance work and your organization suffers. But if you don’t do anything more than maintenance work, your organization will stall and eventually fail. Tactical work includes: financial accounting systems, care of facilities, technology repairs, and updates.

Tactical work can also be critical and vital in nature – it adds direct value to the organization. It may even represent what your organization actually does: a car manufacturer makes cars; a Web company builds Web sites.

Often, tactical work is organized into systems. Most organizations have, and need, hundreds of major and minor systems in place. Systems make behavior predictable, eliminate the need to make redundant decisions, improve communication, and make the organization more efficient and effective.

Strategic initiatives (also called vision)

Vision moves the organization forward. It is an upgrade over what currently exists. It pursues new opportunities and prompts growth within people and the organization. It is a picture of the future that is different and better than the present. It is an improvement over the status quo. Examples might include: open an office in another city or country; offer a new product or service.