Strategic vs Tactical - Christine Kane

This week I’m offering up a quick dose of business coaching. You’re going to hear the story of my very first operations manager and an awareness that was birthed from weekly frustrations we faced.

And, I’ll share the details of the shifts we made in how we managed meetings (and productivity) so we kept an eye on big picture strategy while also managing day-to-day business. You can apply this in your own business immediately.

This is a “think more clearly” episode, with a dose of “get more done,” too. Whether you’re working with a team, or running things all on your own, this episode will help you prioritize, strategize and lose the overwhelm that comes with growing a business.

Episode Transcript

The strategic part of the tactical things you do is the big picture of what your business even is.

Welcome to the Soul-Sourced™ Podcast, unconventional business advice for the highly creative, secretly sensitive and wildly ambitious entrepreneur. I’m your host, Christine Kane. Let’s do this.

Hey you guys, it’s Christine, and welcome to episode, I think it’s number 35. I’m starting to lose track, but I’m doing a thing here. I’m doing that thing where I am just going to hit record and I’m going to talk about something without really planning it out much. And it’s something that was a huge, huge wake up call for me as a business owner. And I’m going to share why that is, but I see people get stuck in this all the time. So I think it’s important that we stop these episodes and pause for a moments of little tiny insights. And I know some of you have said to me, you take reams and reams of notes when you’re listening to these episodes, which I love, but today I’m going to, this is probably going to be just fewer notes, and I want you to really get this one key thing about how you think.

I talk, obviously I talk a lot about brain and I talk a lot about how you train your brain to be an entrepreneur. And I’m not a brain scientist. I’m not even sort of smart in anything related to brain, but what I use as a gauge, as I watch my own energy, as I’ve built a business, I watch my clients and see where they’re getting off track. And I don’t think it takes a brain scientist to understand when energy is not being used well or focus is not being used well. And that brings us to this topic that I’m going to ramble on about here, and it is the difference between strategic and tactical. And I know that I talk about the strategy track and that sort of thing. We’re going to set that to the side right now, and we’re not going to think about it in terms of how does this relate to the strategy track that you talk about?

We’re talking about things in your business in two different camps. One of them is strategic and one of them is more tactical and I’m gonna go through this, but I want to share with you why this became so important for me. So I went from being a musician, a songwriter, and I had, I had an assistant and I had, um, I had worked with different people in different levels of management and agents and that kind of thing. But for the most part, I was the one driving everything forward, the shift over to business ownership and to scaling. I had no idea what I was coming up against because there were so many things I had to learn in terms of hiring, running a team, having meetings, thinking about a business and these things called being strategic and being tactical.

And what happened when I hired my very first director of operations, it was the only employee I had, I had contractors, but I hired somebody who probably wasn’t the best fit for that role. And that’s no one’s fault but mine, but her Colby’s, as you guys know I use the Colby’s, her Colby’s we’re not the director of operations Colby’s and I think I hired her because I liked her. And I just did. We were, we were very much the same, which is not a good thing when you’re hiring somebody, but she and I would sit down and have these meetings. And I hired someone fresh out of getting an MBA who also wasn’t, I don’t think prepared to run and grow a company. You learn all this by doing it, but there you have it.

We would have these meetings and we called them our weekly meetings and we would sit down and we would do something like, okay, we’re going to talk about the E-Zine, ’cause I had an E-Zine at the time. And we would sit down to talk about that week’s E-Zine, for instance, and what the article was going to be and what the headline was going to be and what the subject line was going to be. And then all of a sudden she would say something like, you know, I think we should change the name of the E-Zine, ’cause if you’re changing the name of this company to Uplevel U, I think the E-Zine should probably be called something different. And then that would take us down this rabbit hole of whether or not the E-Zine or newsletter should be changed from what I had called it to the Uplevel weekly or whatever it was. And we would get all over the place and then an hour and a half would go by and we would not be on track with that, week’s E-Zine, and we would be all over the place and my brain would be completely spiraling out of control.

And this happened every single time. Like it wasn’t just E-Zine, it was everything we were doing. We would go down rabbit holes of big picture and small picture. And this brings me to the topic, which is strategic and tactical, and how you think about your business. In this case, it was how I was doing meetings. So at the time I started working with Dan Sullivan and in particular, I was working with one of his program advisors who was such a gift to me. And she had me read the book, Death by Meeting, which is by Patrick Lencioni. And Patrick Lencioni became kind of a lifesaver to me because he writes books without assuming that we all know how business runs, which is what it is so great.

They’re, they’re not, you know, for those of you who love literature, they’re not literature. They’re not, you know, great writing, but they’re really clear writing. And he often begins his books with a fable. And then he does the teaching in the second part of the book. In this case, one of the key pieces about having meetings, what he said, is that you want to set your meeting cadence up where you have tactical meetings, meaning every week you have these tactical meetings, every day you have these tactical huddles and then you have something called your monthly strategic meeting. And that alone was a huge wake up call to me because I started to see, Oh, this is what me and my director of operations were getting mired in, was we were trying to answer strategic questions in our weekly meeting instead of what we should have been doing, which was, plan this week’s E-Zine or next week’s E-Zine in this week’s meeting and get that done, get that sense of completion from our last episode, before having big picture conversations.

And so this brings me around to you. So what is the difference between strategic and tactical and why does this matter when you’re building your business? So the strategic part of the tactical things you do is the big picture of what your business even is. It is who you are. It is who your ideal client is. For those of you who are in Uplevel Cafe or have come to Click. It is in some essences, the Foundation Five. It is everything that informs the smaller things that you do.

So for some, like for some people, when they show up at a coaching call, they say things like, should I do a newsletter or should I just send out some emails or should I have a Facebook page? Or should I, you know, all these should I’s, but what is really the best thing to do is step back, because as you know, my answer to everything is always, it depends, and what it depends on is the strategic stuff, the big picture stuff. So should I do LinkedIn? Well, what is the strategy? Who are you reaching out to? Because if your ideal client is not on LinkedIn, because that person is not necessarily a professional, that strategic stuff informs where you go in your tactical choices. So when you’re thinking about all these little things called tactics, which is everything from creating a valuable free offer, setting up an opt-in page, whether or not to send out warm letters, all those sorts of things. What you have to also do is think in terms of what is my big picture, what is the end point? Who am I serving? And to bring it back to this idea of meetings, even if you don’t have someone on your team, I still highly recommend that you have a meeting cadence with yourself.

So if you’re my client, you understand that I call this Q MWD, which is quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily. And so the quarterly stuff is where we look at the bigger picture stuff of ourselves. It’s why we at Uplevel do quarterly retreats. The monthly is what I mentioned before that monthly strategic that Patrick Lencioni talks about where you’re looking at your overall big picture stuff of your business and what needs to be changed. Is it the name of the newsletter that needs to be changed? Is it starting up on LinkedIn? Is it something bigger, like a website, the bigger picture stuff, but when you’re doing weekly and daily stuff, that’s where you’re looking at more of the tactical things. But those tactical things are informed by your bigger strategy. They are fed by knowing what this business is and knowing what you are all about. So strategic is a key part of what you’re doing and how you’re thinking as a business and tactical is all the stuff that simply needs to get done each and every day.

Now I know if you’re a solo business, this looks radically different than if you have a team. But what I can tell you is that as I grew my team and we started getting into a meeting cadence where we did, we did a daily huddle back when we were all meeting in person, um, at the office, we did a weekly tactical where on Fridays, we looked at the entire next week coming up, what was the email schedule? What every single piece in every day, what Christine’s meetings are and all that kind of stuff. And then we moved into a monthly strategic to, to sort of look at what is the one key thing that we’re focusing on from a big picture place. And then we also did quarterly what, Patrick Lencioni calls offsite meetings.

But the point is, you don’t have to into this kind of rhythm if you don’t have a team, but you can start informing yourself and training your own brain how to think about things in your business. Because the bottom line here is the worst thing that we can do to our productivity is be constantly jumping into strategic thinking when we’re trying to just get things done, because what we’ll do is that when we’re doing our Sunday summit each week, instead of saying, I’ve got to write this email, I’ve got to send out these warm letters, I’ve got to write my LinkedIn profile, is that we start bouncing off into strategy. Well, maybe I shouldn’t even be on LinkedIn or maybe I shouldn’t even be doing emails or maybe I should… And, and we, we completely go off into strategy, but if we can tell our brain, hey, we do write that down for the monthly meeting with myself or with my assistant or whatever it is, then that’s when we start making strategy decisions, bigger picture decisions.

But what we all tend to do is we, we bounce, we bounce out of our moment of what we’ve got to get done now. I’ve chosen to get this thing done now. We bounce out of that and we get all splattered and we splatter ourselves into our strategy when it’s not even time to create our strategic plan. And so, my suggestion is that you start thinking of your strategic stuff as a container that you place only at times like every month or every quarter, where that’s when you revisit things and you keep a kind of a parking lot of ideas of things that you need to work on during those meetings with yourself or with your assistant, whatever it might be to address the bigger picture stuff that feeds these tactical choices that you’re making every week or every day. But what I can tell you is that you are going to hate your life and your business if you’re always asking yourself strategic questions, when your brain is trying to do the tactical work it needs to do to get these things done.

So that’s my thought, that’s my insight. If you want to get Patrick Lencioni’s books, I highly recommend them, but if you don’t have a team, some of them aren’t going to apply to you. But in the meantime, I’m just going to leave you with this and let you stew with it and see how it lands for you and watch yourself every week, every day, to see when you keep bouncing into like, should I even be doing this? Like those big picture things. The energy of completion, the energy of commitment means you’re going to do the thing you said, you’re going to do this week, even if you’re not even sure you’ll end up doing it, and you’ll wait for those bigger picture times, those monthly meetings, to have more strategic conversations with yourself or your team about your business.

So, Hey, you guys, thanks for listening and thanks for letting me ramble and sharing an insight with you. That was really key to my growth and my ability to grow. And I’m hoping that it helps you in your ability to Uplevel your business. And I will see you on our next episode.