Archive for July, 2009

Strategy vs Tactics

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

I’ve found irony that managers who tout strategy and tactics don’t know the difference between the two.

Here is a simplified view:

Strategy is the overall goal of the business.
Tactics are the set of tools or actions taken to fulfill strategy.

Strategy vs Tactics

Strategy vs Tactics

Many managers will say our strategy is to make money and soldiers would say our goal is to win the war. That’s an over simplified viewpoint, which has no thought processes and is worthless. Give it some thought on why your organization is in existence. Who do you serve? Why do you serve? What’s your goal?

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu

Motivation, Drive, Decision Making and Meetings

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

When conducting meetings a few managers feel rushed and metaphorically stomp their foot down and tell them “it’s my way or the highway” and “you better get this done or else!”  While this may be efficient use of time for the manager, he or she loses important resources. Some people find this hard to believe, but as a supervisor you don’t know everything!

Soliciting ideas from peers and subordinates can be extremely beneficial. If you don’t have time, then you’re doing something wrong. How can I be so confident and bold in that statement? This is something I’ve learned over time. Here are a few examples:

I took over a new department that had a high staff turnover. Security, accounts and paperwork were a mess, which required me to spend ten to eleven hours a day just to keep the department running. Did I keep the same processes they had used for the past twelve years?  No, I solicited feedback from peers, reflected, and made sweeping changes. Thereafter, I had two to three hours each day to spend on developing the department and left after eight hours.

A closed circuit television station was in bankruptcy mode since its inception. There were five staff members and over 50 volunteers. I started networking with broadcast engineers and managers at other stations while learning this technology. I pulled the staff together and solicited feedback. Giving them the empowerment of high level decisions sparked extraordinary changes. When asked who did it, it was “we did it”. I garnered support from upper management, put them on two national cable providers, and they made their first profits.

The gist of the examples are “people support what they help create” and take advantage of the experience and knowledge around you. There’s much more to each example, but this is a short blog post that I don’t want to bore the readers with.

IT and Business Goal Alignment

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Someone presented a question to me today.  “How would you align the IT goals with the business goals and what process would you use?

There is common ground between IT and business goals, which needs to be articulated into the languages of business, “finance and value.”  An understanding of the business goals and the mindset of decisions is crucial; otherwise the chances of failure greatly increase. 

First getting a grasp of the IT’s capabilities and how credible they are through performance metrics is necessary.  The second step is gaining a solid understanding by assessing customer satisfaction and meeting with managers.  This gives clues to functionality of the current systems and processes in place. Finally, assessing and developing relationships throughout the organization is necessary for collaboration.  Politics is often used in a negative connotation, but politics get things done.

After the initial steps have been taken, I’m ready to begin the alignment process.  This is done through meetings, research, planning, negotiation, changes, implementation, and reassessment.  Reassessments and reflection on the current systems are always necessary.  After all, the only constant is change.

When doing alignment keep it simple otherwise keep a drawer full of aspirin.  The staff and systems should be lean, whereas I prefer the cross-training approach.  Emphasize accountability from start to finish, otherwise you’re asking for failure.  The two evils that will catch up to all of us are time and budget.