Beyond the Build


Tactical and Strategic Thinking: The Balance

I was talking with our CFO this week, discussing tactical and strategic types of thinking.

In tactical execution, one does not have to look over the horizon. These are the folks who focus on short-term goals and milestones, planning and organizing for a set timeframe. Problems always seems urgent and concrete, with the immediate goals of customer satisfaction and ROI. If the organization does not have strong tactical leaders, strategy doesn’t really matter.

Strategic thinking goes beyond looking at what is and instead imagines what can be. They maintain peripheral vision, holding steady with the longterm plan, but listening to those that may defer. What is over the horizon? Are there new areas to explore? Is there a smarter way to conduct current business, maximizing and leveraging long-term resources?

While the tactical horizon is shorter than the strategic both are equally important for success. The gray area is where they mesh.We decided that one needs to be thinking both ways almost simultaneously. The reality is, most people are good at one or the other but not both. Part of our management excels at strategy, while others tend to be more tactical. To me this is one of the keys to a company’s long term success.

I say often to our folks and our customers ”nothing is easy.” When the waters and winds are calm, watch out, there’s a wave out there. Be ready tactically to maneuver the boat and strategically to look for better water.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.