Lawyers, legal marketers, administrators, if you do one thing today have a quick look at Seth Godin’s blog. He offers up a most eloquent distinction between strategy and tactics, and sends us a valuable reminder on when it is time to re-think strategy. Here’s an excerpt:
Here’s the difference: The right strategy makes any tactic work better. The right strategy puts less pressure on executing your tactics perfectly.
Here’s the obligatory January skiing analogy: Carving your turns better is a tactic. Choosing the right ski area in the first place is a strategy. Everyone skis better in Utah, it turns out.
If you are tired of hammering your head against the wall, if it feels like you never are good enough, or that you’re working way too hard, it doesn’t mean you’re a loser. It means you’ve got the wrong strategy.
Here’s the big question for consideration. Are your tactics bringing in the big wins or are they just barely keeping your head above water?
For another story that describes the distinction between strategy and tactics we can look to the Second World War when Winston Churchill proposed the strategy:
“Attack the soft underbelly of Europe.”
This strategy determined the tactic of advancing on the German empire from North Africa, Egypt, to Sicily, and through Italy. The strategy was dead on. The tactics worked.
Here’s the caveat. Once we have bought into a strategy, and are deep into tactics, it’s easy to loose sight of the distinction. When the tactics fail or underperform it is tempting to look to different tactics rather than back to the strategic vision and plans.
In addition, many lawyers, administrators, and legal marketers, are trapped in a tactical silo, as so many firms still lack the strategic plans that come first.
If your firm, practice group, client team, or your own practice is struggling, take the time this January to review and re-think your strategy and ask:
“What is our strategy?” This should be answered in one or two sentences.
“Is this strategy paying off?” If not, “what’s working?” “What’s not?” “What could make a difference?”
And if you don’t have a strategy, make this the year that you develop one.