"Strategy" may be one of the most mis-used business words around. 

Just as many teenagers seem to punctuate their sentences with "like", "you know", "what I'm trying to say", and "whatever", business people seem to use "strategy" whenever they want someone to think something is important or just want to look smart themselves.

Red Cross Example

The Red Cross provides relief to victims of disaster and helps people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.

The American Red Cross focuses on:

  • Service to the Armed Forces
  • Health and Safety Services
  • International Services
  • Biomedical Services
  • Disaster Response

Disaster Response operational leaders then focus on:

  • Sheltering
  • Feeding
  • Getting Emergency Operations Center up and running
  • Assessment: homes destroyed, damaged, affected,
  • Public Affairs

Shelter leaders then focus on:

  • Selecting shelter sites
  • Staffing shelters
  • Equiping shelters (cots, etc.)
  • Suppling shelters (food, water, supplies)
  • Making the public aware of shelters

This results in victims of disaster like Priscilla Marquez (pictured above) having a safe place to sleep and eat.

Sheltering an objective, strategy, or tactic?

In this example, "sheltering" is a tactic for some, a strategy for others, and an objective for still others.

  • For the head of the American Red Cross, sheltering is a tactical component of her choice to invest in disaster response
  • For the head of a disaster response operation, sheltering is a strategic choice
  • For the head of sheltering, sheltering is the objective

What choices direct actions

I suggest that strategies are the choices that direct the actions that deliver objectives

  • What: objectives
  • Choices that direct: strategies
  • Actions: tactics

As the Red Cross example illustrates, these step down.  One person's strategy is the next level's objective.

Whomever you are, it's important to think clearly about the "what" objectives you are charged with delivering, your directional choices, and the actions you are going to take.  If you don't believe me, ask Priscilla Marquez.

What choices direct actions you're associated with?

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