Boston is an amazing place. Apparently there is the best part of 250,000 college or higher education students in the greater Boston area. 250,000 students…each one probably brings some $50,000 into the area each year by way of education fees and living expenses. That’s an awful lot of money…just from the students.
I was back in Boston this last week. I haven’t been to Boston for some 15 months. I used to be there almost once a month. Boston or Cambridge. I recognised some sights – not all since there is an amazing amount of construction going on, especially in Cambridge. The sounds were familiar – sirens, shouting and lots of construction. And the smells – there definitely seems to be a Starbucks on every corner.
I was actually in Cambridge – and arrived with strategy and tactics on my mind. This was partly because I joined a telecom from the car on my way to Heathrow – a telecom where we talked about the importance of strategy and tactics; and partly since I always think about strategy and tactics when I go visiting.
For me, my strategy is the framework within which I think about what I am doing. My tactics are what I use to implement my strategy. If I have tactics without strategy I get things done, but they tend to be one off, disconnected events that don’t lead anywhere. If I turn up with a strategy but no tactics then I have little or no means to do anything. My tactics are defined by my strategy, but neither can exist effectively without the other.
My strategy for this trip was to return home at the end of the week having met old friends and new partners. And to have invested time and energy in my relationships old and new. At a more detailed level, to have worked and socialised. To have slept well; not eaten too much…or drunk too well. To have worked out each day; And to have stayed connected to my family and up to date on developments at work.
I knew that during my visit I would have to respond and react…present and propose. Formally and informally…ideas and solutions. I would have to adjust my schedule and change my mind. Breakfast instead of lunch…paper instead of PowerPoint. Coffee instead of wine…apologies before opportunities. All the time making sure I was still heading towards my destination, irrespective of whether I was making small (or large) adjustments. My tactics.
I sat at the end of the week in the airport lounge in Boston and took a moment or two to consider what I had achieved. How well (or not so well) events had worked out. I always need to be able to assess how much progress I have made. I like to make mental notes about what I will try again…or do differently next time. I like to capture those new ideas that appeared – unexpected and exciting ideas – that only happened because of where I was and who I met. I also find it helpful – and more enjoyable – to have someone else to reflect experiences off at those moment. Someone who will likely have seen, heard or felt events differently.
It was a good week. Time will tell ultimately, but I felt pleased and satisfied. I had met most (but not all) of the people I wanted to meet, and had great discussions.
As I closed my eyes on the plane ride home, I tried just one more time – before I fell asleep – to work out just how much money flows into greater Boston each year from all those students …I failed.