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Tapping IT's Creativity

Tactics and Strategy

As the saying goes, tactics win the battles but strategy wins the war. In chess, tactics are defined as moves to make immediate gains: forks and pins and discovered attacks. Strategy, on the other hand, entails long-term planning: how to set yourself up to win the game. Tactics and strategy are two parts of a cohesive whole, and it's essential to understand the differences.

For an IT professional, engineer or musician, tactics are the basic vocabulary--programming languages, scripts, operating systems, networking protocols, diatonic scales. Mastery of tactics through practice leads to more advanced knowledge--understanding how your systems behave, how to install and manage them, how to identify problems and provide quick, efficient solutions.

But it's a huge mistake to consider yourself merely a tactician. With strategy, creativity comes into play. That includes developing a technology architecture, creating more efficient processes through innovation and invention, and producing measurable business value. Strategy is the reason your IT department exists. Set aside time to think about the big picture--how your job fits into the department, how your department fits into the company.

Tactical learning feeds strategy. As an IT professional, don't just learn how an operating system or router works; learn the theory behind operating systems or networks. Form opinions on what the ideal is, and explore alternatives for situations where this ideal may not work. Use tactics as tools to achieve larger goals.

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