Strategy in Three Steps: Promise, Principles + Tactics

Purists might argue that putting Tactics into strategy is incorrect.  However, I found this little nugget of wisdom in Chris Potts’ book fruITion.  I was so taken with it that I’ve begun using this simple tool and have been thrilled with the results.

First about the book:

fruITion is a wonderfully written allegorical text that chronicles the brief and brilliant development of an IT strategy and the trasformation of the CIO into a true business leader.  Potts has mastered the cluetrain ideal of writing in narrative and this makes for a most unusual IT or business book.  The strength of this approach is that the lessons and observations stay with you very readily.  Unlike other tomes where I am constanly looking up the good ideas again and again, I “internalized” the concepts from fruITion.  One of these concepts was this simple Promise, Principles, Tactics construction of strategy.

Now on to strategy and how I applied it:

Promise is the commitment that the individual/owner/project sponsor/whomever is responsible for the strategy (as Potts would say whomever is the strategy) makes to the company/business/organization/patron/etc.  This commitment is usually given in exchange for some consideration — like a budget or continued employment.

Principles are those ideas, mores, concepts, etc that guide the decision making and execution of the strategy.  These might concern themselves with how capital is accessed and used, labor, open source, partnerships, etc.  But these are themes and considerations, not necessarily yeses and noes.  They are the things you balance when considering options or next steps.

Tactics are threads that lead to Strategic Next Actions (see Sally McGhee — mebbe I’ll blog on that some day).  They are results to be achieved or things to do.  They are developed and considered in balance with the Principles.  These are the actions that you take to implement your Strategy.

Review, update, repeat.


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