It's really important for everyone involved in decision making to understand which level of decision they're dealing with. This includes the person making the decision, the people affected by it, and the trusted advisors who help with the decision. A successful career depends on knowing when a big decision is at hand.
Let's start with tactical decisions. These are our everyday choices to keep ourselves safe and navigate life. For example, if you were to walk outside and see a tiger, your immediate response would be to run. It's a simple rule of thumb that ensures your survival. However, it might not always be the most accurate or appropriate response. The tiger could be tame, old, or even chained to a tree. But in order to stay safe, you act quickly to avoid the danger without much thinking.
On the other hand, there are strategic decisions, also known as big decisions. We make these life-altering choices less frequently, maybe once a week or once a month. Strategic decisions require more analysis and planning. We consider the long term, involve both people and numbers, and evaluate information analytically and statistically. These decisions are thoughtful and measured.
Boss Sees Decision as Tactical
Now, here's where things can go wrong. Sometimes, technical professionals make the mistake of treating a decision as strategic when their boss actually sees it as a tactical decision. They spend a lot of time analyzing data and doing complex statistical analysis when all the boss needs is a quick and simple answer. This can be a waste of time and may even jeopardize their job.
Boss Sees Decision as Strategic
Conversely, if the boss sees a decision as strategic, but the technical professionals think it's tactical, they might provide a short and simple analysis without much detail. This can make them appear arrogant or misaligned with the boss's expectations. Their credibility as technical advisors is then lost, and they may face negative consequences like being benched or fired.
So, the key takeaway here is to always understand the decision-maker's perspective before jumping into problem-solving and providing technical advice. Answer the question at the level it was asked and only try to change the decision maker's perspective if you genuinely believe it's necessary.
In a nutshell, understanding the difference between tactical and strategic decisions is crucial for effective communication and building a successful career. A successful career depends on knowing when a big decision is at hand.
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