Thursday, April 26, 2012

Strategists and Tacticians

I am realizing I am not a strategist.

Yes, I know that everything can be taught and yes, I know that we can do things which we think we can't.  Be that as it may, I don't know that I'm a strategist.  Instead, I'm tactical.

I have realized that strategists like strategy and believe in it firmly.  But what I've also realized is that strategists - or at least the strategists I know - are too often the most of touch people in any situation.

They have no anchor in the real world.  They don't know how the things they strategize for actually work. Confronted with the need to accomplish a task, they couldn't do it.  Instead, they look for the tactical people to "execute" their plans.
Strategists are important - of course.  But it's a rare strategist that can understand the day to day operations of anything, or talk to someone performing the work without the sense of condescension that so often accompanies a civilization.

Bottom line, we don't value the people that do the work.  Strategists have become the pinnacle of the work pyramid, but the people that actually complete the tasks and execute the strategy are more often than not seen as a sort of speaking tool whose purpose is to support whatever strategies are developed.

Once upon a time, a rise in position was tied to merit.  People who came up to the strategy positions had experience with the actual function of the tasks to be done.  When they planned work and set goals, the understanding of all was that the people setting the work understood the work being done.

No more.  Too often, people with little or no experience in how to accomplish something are put in charge of something.  They make grandiose plans and improvement projects.  When confronted with items to be done, they too often assume how things are done or things that are in place.  The result?    Plans that too often fail midstream or are never accomplished at all.

I'm a tactician.  I solve problems.  I do the work.  Occasionally I strategize.  But I've come to realize that while strategists have the option of planning and not accomplishing, I do not. For many things, if I don't do them, they won't get done. 

Which gives a certain amount of power.  I can exists without the strategists.  But for many things, they cannot exist without me.

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