Wednesday, March 08, 2006

curious: goals vs strategies

I had a long(ish) conversation the other day on the topic of "strategic vision". I encourage all of you to have such conversations. They will quickly open your eyes to the difficulty of talking about strategy when you're not sure of the goals that drive them. But that's another story.

For all of you keeping score at home, strategy (from the Greek strategos, or "general's art") is one of those topics that sooner or later you're going to have to learn about. Having learned all you can, you are best advised to promptly forget it all.

"Strategy," as my old da is wont to say, "is the methodology for achieving goals and objectives. It's silly to have a strategy without first having goals that are achievable. Until you have a goal, don't worry about strategy, now get me my shoes, you blackguard." G-d love him, but he's right, mostly.

The trifecta of goals, strategies and tactics occupy roughly the same space for me. If you're going to embrace the sort of creative thinking you need to thrive (and stay interested), you need to be prepared to be somewhat plastic in your approach to all three, in that they advise, expand and describe one another.

Does this make you an opportunist? Why yes, it does. An acceptable outcome - the goal - isn't rigid. So it goes without saying that the strategies which can be employed in pursuit of movable goals shouldn't be rigid either.

I say this because I am very careful about setting goals - they can't be so narrowly defined as to exclude the possibility of change. They should be measurable, and achievable, yes. But they should also yield to reality which - as we all know - does not yield to structured planning.

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