Anyone who has spent a weekend camping in a tent understands the importance of putting stakes in the ground. The stakes placed in the ground promote a firm foundation for the stability of the tent, giving it structure and sustainability. And, second only to selecting the campsite, it is one of the first things that must be done to set up camp.
The same is true with creating strategy. At the outset, an organization has to determine where it is starting from and what strategies will drive it forward. I often find myself providing counsel to organizations that have a hard time separating tactic from strategy. Strategies are the small collection of drivers that move an organization forward. They are the "what" of a solution and they must be created first prior to any action planning. Tactics are simply the chronological and operational steps that need to be undertaken to support and accomplish the strategies. They are the "how" of a solution.
It turns out that most people would rather debate "how" the organization should respond to future needs than "what" strategies will drive it forward. Putting stakes in the ground is a visible reminder that you can't move forward without the tent firmly in place. Focus on the "what" and the "how" will become obvious.
Next up? "Why" did we go camping in the first place?