Someone once told me that success was simple. All you need to do is “plan your work, and work your plan”. This adage may work, but there are a few more things to consider.
We all have plans and goals we want to achieve. How do you go about setting that plan into motion? Do you have certain steps you take or do you just dive in head-first? First, think about “planning your work”. My first thought is that work is not the only thing that defines us. So while planning your work is important, it is also important to define “work”. Work needs to include the activities that define you as a person. To broaden your view of work, review the following questions:
1. What value are you adding to yourself?
2. What value are you adding to others?
3. At the end of your life, what do you want to be remembered for?
4. How are you building your character?
Defining your life’s work should encompass more than just your job. You are more than your job and you should be able to say that you love what you do for a living. We will also need to consider “work your plan”. How many times have you failed to follow through on your plans? We all stumble if we dream big, but there is a difference between giving up, and failing but standing up to continue. Success requires taking action. It requires following through on your plan, regardless of the obstacles you will face.
If you find yourself on the couch watching television every night of the week, you either have not worked your plan hard enough, or you are not working on your plan. Do you want to be remembered as the person that was always watching television? If you want to achieve, plan for it. Then go out and do it. That is how you plan your work and work your plan. It takes time and strategy in order to fully execute your plan. Every move you make is crucial when it comes to which tactics you will use in order to succeed.
But is it possible to confuse strategy and tactics? Yes! I have encountered it numerous times in my career. Both strategy and tactics lead to the achievement of a goal, but they are different. Let’s look at an example.
Strategy: Become a world-class manufacturing facility by reducing waste and developing the skills of the workforce.
Tactic: Implement lean tools to achieve the strategy.
Tactics need to shift to fit the situation, but the strategy is the overriding guide. On the surface, this appears simple, but in practice is sometimes overlooked. In lean manufacturing, some groups may be so enamored with learning a lean tool that they believe the implementation of the tool is the strategy. In some cases, they may even believe copying the tool exactly as they learned it is the only solution. Has directly copying another person’s work ever perfectly fit anyone’s personal journey? Not unless you make significant changes to your own goals to match that other person’s dreams.
The lesson I learned from my trainer is that we should never copy a tool. We must first think, then learn, then implement a solution that fits our situation. Never copy without understanding. His favorite question was, “What is the purpose?” Tactics change and shift depending on many factors. A strategy should be an anchor for the team. A vision that will keep people linked to a goal as they face their daily challenges. Where have you become too attached to a tactic and need to revisit your strategy? Is your strategy driving your tactics or the reverse?