There’s a secret I learned from a Harvard MBA about ten years into my career. I have used this secret on pretty much every job, project and personal endeavor in my life since then. The secret is simple, but effective. It’s a system that helps you articulate what you are trying to do and clarify how you can get it done.
The secret is not so secret to people who work as business analysts, management consultants and even account managers, but it may be foreign to you if you work in a creative field, one of the professions, or are essentially self-taught in business. It’s a methodology called “Objective, Strategy, Tactics” or OST and I use it to craft PowerPoint presentations, focus business strategies, organize consulting clients’ priorities and so much more. So why wouldn’t I apply it to my own life, as well?
OST is about putting first things first, asking yourself what it is you are trying to achieve before you invest time/money/energy in pursuing something. Without the structure of a boss or manager setting our priorities and the agenda for our time, it is easy to get lost in the weeds of pursuing activities, interests, or work for money without first considering whether those activities are taking us where we want to go.
Remember, time is a limited commodity. Time you invest in one thing is time you are choosing not to invest in something else. OST asks you to set your goals first and then consider how you pursue them. Until you know what you are trying to achieve, you are essentially throwing spaghetti at the wall. (Of course, if you really have no idea what you are trying to achieve in your life, throwing spaghetti might be as good an approach as any to figure it out!)
The three components of OST are:
- Objective: What you are trying to achieve; your goal
- Strategy: Your approach for achieving your objective; a plan
- Tactics: The minutiae of how you will execute your strategy
In everything you do, you must first articulate your objective, the ultimate goal you are trying to achieve. Once you know your objective, then you can craft a strategy or a plan for achieving your objective. Finally, based on your strategic plan, you will employ a number of tactics that you will need to execute on in order to complete your strategy.
Objective, Strategy, Tactics is a simple way to organize your thinking. Once you have articulated your objectives, it’s easier to see clearly what you need to do to achieve them. It’s also easier to see what you are doing that is not driving you in the direction of your goals.
To clarify a bit more: in a business, your Objective, Strategy,Tactics might look like this:
Objective: Achieve Profitability
Strategy 1: Cut Costs
Tactics: Lay off 5% of the staff
Re-negotiate pricing agreements with key service providers
Close the office and have employees work from home
Strategy 2: Increase sales of highest margin products
Tactics: Identify new sales funnels for high-margin products.
You get the picture. Life is a little more complicated, but still, you can use the Objective, Strategy, Tactics method to help you define your goals and set up a plan to achieve them.
Continue on to the Goal Setting Exercise>>