The Complete Pragmatic Family of Frameworks














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The words Strategic and Tactical are used frequently in Enterprises in relation to Transformation. However, these words are normally ill defined, and as such, different groups tend to use them in different ways, while assuming they are being used in the same way.

“The Business”

“The Business” tends to talk in terms of WHY work is required. Objectives.

¨      Strategic – Achieves long term objectives.

¨      Tactical – Achieves short term objectives which may or may not contribute to Strategic Objectives.

These definitions seem reasonable. But, in my experience, “The Business” tends to call everything they want Strategic - In 40 years, I cannot recall “The Business” ever saying something they wanted was Tactical. In some ways you could say that this is correct, since even Tactical work (should) contribute to Strategic objectives. However, I suspect calling everything Strategic is more to do with politics:

¨      To increase the likelihood of the work being chosen (“We must do this – it’s a strategic project”).

¨      To drive the work on after it has been started (“Full steam ahead – it’s a strategic project”)

¨      To prevent work stopping (“We can’t stop now! – it’s a strategic project”).

 

“IT”

“IT” tends to talk in terms of HOW work is performed. Actions (to achieve Objectives).

¨      Strategic – Done in a way that maximises long term value, by following best business practice principles, which will cost more in the short term, compared to Tactically.

¨      Tactical – Done in a way that maximises short term value, by ignoring best business practice principles, which will cost more in the long term, compared to Strategically.

Arguments

Something that happens a lot in Enterprises when projects are executing, is a discussion (or rather an argument) about whether a project is Strategic or Tactical.

 “IT” may be raising red flags saying “This is a Tactical Project” while “The Business” may be saying “This is a Strategic Project”. They are both right, but for different reasons. WHY we are doing the project is Strategic, but HOW we are doing the project is Tactical. This is why many “Tactical Projects” end up being the “Strategic Solution”

This disconnect between “The Business” and “IT” can often lead “The Business” to ignore “IT” when it says “Its Tactical” and just chalk it up to “IT” complaining again, try to live in a perfect world

Quadrants

The diagram shows a quadrant diagram with all possible permutation of the Strategic vs Tactical conundrum. The red boxes denote states that logically should not exist. If the reason for doing something is because it is strategically important (Achieves long term objectives) why would it be done in a Tactical way (Done in a way that maximises short term value, by ignoring best business practice principles, which will cost more in the long term, compared to Strategically).

Similarly, If the reason for doing something is because it is tactically important (Achieves short term objectives which may or may not contribute to Strategic Objectives) why would it be done in a Strategic way  (Done in a way that maximises long term value, by following best business practice principles, which will cost more in the short term, compared to Tactically.)

The green boxes denote states that logically should exist. If the reason for doing something is Strategically important (Achieves long term objectives) it is reasonable (even desirable) that the work should be done in a Strategic way (Done in a way that maximises long term value, by following best business practice principles, which will cost more in the short term, compared to Tactically).

Similarly, If the reason for doing something is Tactically important (Achieves short term objectives which may or may not contribute to Strategic Objectives) it is reasonable (even desirable) that the work should be done in a Tactical way (Done in a way that maximises short term value, by ignoring best business practice principles, which will cost more in the long term, compared to Strategically.).

Of course, there may be exceptions, but the general rule is that if you find yourself in the red boxes, serious thought should be given to the reasons for that.

 

Questions to ponder...

Does your Enterprise confuse Strategic Projects and Tactical work?

If so, does that cause any problems?

What needs to change to alleviate those problems?

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