The Art of Strategy

I have to admit something: my first instinct is to take action. When faced with a challenge, the input I’m getting triggers an inclination to find the right tactic to meet the challenge and implement it. Quickly. 

For those of you who missed the update, I joined Revenue Pulse on February 18th as CEO. In taking over for Pierce Ujjainwalla, I am just the second CEO in the company’s seven-year history. Over the past weeks, I’ve had the chance to fully immerse myself in the business and engage with the team (what a team!). 

The Revenue Pulse team has incredible depth and experience. Our client base is diverse, excellent, and satisfied, and I couldn’t be happier to dive into this new role. I realize I have a short window of opportunity to view the company with an outside lens. Soon I’ll be immersed in the culture, and, similar to the picture on the wall that you become accustomed to, areas that stand out today will soon become the norm for me. 

So as I get started, I’m taking a look at everything that makes Revenue Pulse, Revenue Pulse, and the question I’ve been wrestling with as I consider our strategy going forward is, “Can tactics that are disconnected from strategy truly be effective?”

Your gut reaction might be, “yes,” or “no,” or even “it depends,” but my thought is that there is a grey area here. 

Sometimes a tactic just makes sense. Perhaps the tactic worked well in a previous instance, or perhaps the experience that’s honed your business instincts over time leads you to take a well-informed chance. 

But I think the crux of the question above is the word “tactics.” Success within an organization is not tied to a single decision or action. Instead, it’s tied to a series of decisions, and that series should be determined by your strategy. 

When your strategy informs your decisions, the tactics you pursue are those that fall in line with your end goal. If the tactics aren’t tied to a strategy:

1. How do you prioritize them?

2. How does the sequence of tactics tie together?

3. How do you know you’re on the right track?

I’m not the type of person that quotes philosophers or movie scripts very often (except The Big Lebowski). But when it comes to business strategy, there is one quote I always have at the tip of my tongue:

“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”

Sun Tzu, the brilliant Taoist general, included this and many other truths in The Art of War. It’s not so much a blueprint to military victory as it is a treatise on strategy.

My experience has been that Sun Tzu was right. Your business should be connected to a strategy, and the business tactics you employ should be tied to that strategy. The stronger the connection, the more likely you are to reach your objectives. 

So as I focus on absorbing and understanding the ins and outs of Revenue Pulse, along with our unique strengths and opportunities, I give myself a reminder: What do we need to do right now, and what do we need to connect to our long-term strategy and goals? 

In my time here so far, I’m tremendously impressed with the team and the clients we get to work with. I’m committed to developing those relationships and delivering the same world-class service that’s ingrained in the work of the Revenue Pulse team already. 

So no matter what my first instinct is, no matter what configs we need to deliver or campaigns we need to execute, strategy is what we connect to and is where we all begin. The tactics will follow.