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4 Steps to Get Out of a Tactical Trap--And 3 Steps To Stay Out!

4 Steps to Escape a Tactical Snare and 3 Ways to Remain Free!

We all have been there. Like a runner in a maze, we suddenly realize we’re in a tight spot. We were so focused on “doing it” that we momentarily forgot to take a long view of where we were going. Now What!?!?!

You can get yourself out of a tight situation. And, for the future, you can keep a strategic focus and avoid tactical traps.


Here are tools that will help you in the present to get out of a tactical trap. (Later on in this blog, you will see that these same steps will help prevent falling into tactical traps.)

Prune -- Taking on too much work can surround you with “busy-ness” demands. So, choose just a handful of key priorities for the near short term -- between three and five. Ruthlessly eliminate the rest. Pruning the non-essential is critical. Critical!

Align – Do your processes and resources support your priorities … or get in the way? NOTE: We can’t emphasize enough that “Align” here is a “for now” assessment—a situation analysis in the current moment.

    1. Identify the processes and resources that are essential to your chosen priorities. Are they:

• Sub-par and often dragging you into "fix-it" mode?

• Or, working well enough -- for now -- to contribute to your priorities?

  1. Assign a person or team to quickly bring the “sub-pars” up to at least minimal effectiveness (while keeping you up-to-date on their progress),
  2. Make this correction their highest priority. But, beware of “scope creep.” The person/team may discover there’s a much broader, deeper need to upgrade these processes and resources. Remember the phrase: “A for now ”

They should think of themselves as a pit crew in a NASCAR race. If they need to change the tires, do it. But, hold off on re-engineering the suspension!

Communicate -- Throughout this process, check in with your stakeholders – supervisor, colleagues, and staff. It will be much easier for you to focus if you make sure they are on board with your choices. Let them know why you’re doing this … and how it will benefit them. It’s particularly important for your supervisor to buy in to this reduction and re-focus. Persuading peers and staff of the necessity of pruning will help them adjust to postponing an accomplishment they might want.

Engage – In addition to communicating with your staff, be sure they’ve bought in to these priorities. Understand their own work aspirations and show that fulfilling the focused priorities further enables their success. Help them simplify their work assignments, just as you have done with yours. Make sure they know your eliminated priorities also are off the table for them, too.

So, increase your “P.A.C.E.” Prune, Align, Communicate, and Engage. That will get you out of the tactical trap.


To avoid a tactical trap in the future, you must set aside time to do the following.

Roadmap – Where are you going … and why? Avoid entering a new year with undefined goals and a wide assortment of disparate priorities. Well before the start of the year, prepare a roadmap that everyone understands. An essential part of doing a roadmap is using P.A.C.E., as explained above.

Understand – Know and commit to the mission, vision, value proposition, and strategy expressed by the key stakeholders. Translate these into specific plans by making sure you also know:

  1. Your clients’ needs & strategies,
  2. External market trends, which may allow you to anticipate requirements clients may not yet perceive,
  3. Your department’s core competencies and resources, particularly those which need to be strengthened beyond just working “well enough" to get by. So at this point, you’re going beyond the “for now” analysis.
  4. Potential roadblocks and hazards along your intended route.

Be sure to keep the explanation of your plans as simple as possible

Numbers – Clearly identify – in advance – the essential numbers the organization needs to meet. Without metrics a plan is just an empty starting gun. Specifically, what numbers are particularly influenced by your part of the organization? Make sure these are communicated to your staff and that they are empowered and engaged to meet them.

So, join the race and “R.U.N.” to the finish line (which is next year’s starting line.) “R.U.N.” – Roadmap, Understand, and Numbers.

Whether you are:

  • Getting out of a tactical trap – using “A.C.E.,”
  • Or – using “U.N.” – to plan the achievement of your goals …

you must constantly monitor your progress. Stay in touch with the metrics as well as the overall organization’s momentum.

Doing that will magnify your high potential as an individual!

Your employees are your greatest strength. Turn their talent into a competitive advantage.
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