Football and driving analogies are commonly used by me to readily compare business issues to real life situations. Driving analogies work especially well when trying to get people to relate to strategy. My tag line for strategy is “elevating your line of sight,” and I often refer to the difference between looking at the stripes on the road as they whizz by, instead of having your eyes on the horizon looking forward to your destination.

In driving, a purely tactical line of sight can have you looking forward to the next curve, which is absolutely necessary on a winding road. In fact, a very twisty road will prevent you from elevating your line of sight to the horizon at the risk of running off of a curve. It’s the same with tactics and strategy. While certain events will draw some if not all of your attention to immediate issues (tactical), when the road straightens, you have to take advantage of the break in the action to elevate your view to your route (strategy).

Tactical involvement can vary. You might be “watching the road stripes as they go by,” an activity so tactical and detail driven, that it’s impossible to view anything else going on around you. The business equivalent of this would be “burying yourself in the details,” and while perhaps it’s at times necessary, it can’t be done safely by the person driving (or leading)! A slightly higher level of tactical involvement would be looking down the road ahead for the next curve, a pedestrian, or even a stray animal. This requires fundamental tactical involvement, adjustment of speed and direction based on the challenges presented by the environment, (or your market). This level needs your ( as the driver or leader) attention focused on the challenges as they appear, and when the action slows down you can elevate your line of sight back to the overall route (strategy) to your destination.

The parallel lesson in business is that as a leader you cannot be laser-focused on both strategy and tactics simultaneously, but rather you must shift attention to tactics when it’s demanded, and then opportunistically toggle back to strategy. Also, as in checking your travel route first, if you don’t take the time to check your strategy before embarking, the tactical requirements of leading might consume all of your attention, and you could end up in the wrong place.

The Strategy step in Business 5s will sharpen your strategy, identify the high level tactics, and correct your course to the destination in your vision.

Comments are closed.