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Use Time Spans Instead of “Strategic”, “Long-term”, “Short-term”, etc.

E. Forrest Christian Organizations Leave a Comment

One thing that I have learned: never use the words “strategic” or “tactical”. Much less such terrors as “long-term” or “short-term”.

The problem is that these are relative terms. What is strategic in one context is tactical in another.

It was pretty obvious that these guys with whom I work in Enterprise Architecture (and they are almost entirely men) had difficulties created because they were talking about different things. Although they had such things as “Business Units”, these varied widely in size and complexity, as did their respective IT organizations. For some, IT operations involved fifteen applications for three-hundred users. At another business unit, it might encompass 600 applications or systems for 30,000 internal users and 1.2M customers through external facing systems. These are widely different operations and require widely different size of planning.

So keep away from the “strategic” and “tactical” ideas. Follow Jaques and Brown’s lead and use timespans. So not a “strategic IT plan” but “a strategic 5-year IT plan”. Yes, your group will sound vaguely Soviet but few people will even get the joke.

You’ll also want to keep things at the right level of abstraction. A five-year plan is more abstract and changing than a next-year plan.

In the same way, quit using “long-term” and “short-term”, using timespans instead.

OBTW: have you noticed that if you say “Jaques and Brown” three times fast, it sounds just like a baby-boomer pop singer?

About the Author

Forrest Christian

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E. Forrest Christian is a consultant, coach, author, trainer and speaker at The Manasclerk Company who helps managers and experts find insight and solutions to what seem like insolvable problems. Cited for his "unique ability and insight" by his clients, Forrest has worked with people from almost every background, from artists to programmers to executives to global consultants. Forrest lives and works plain view of North Carolina's Mount Baker.  [contact]

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