You may have heard the expression, “Win the battle and lose the war.” This happens quite often in the business world. It can be in just about any area of a business; sales, service, HR, etc. Too many times management creates a policy or makes a decision, which is a short-term win, but ultimately causes problems down the road. That is known as tactical thinking. The opposite is strategic thinking, which takes the future into consideration. Successful businesses use strategic thinking when making important decisions.  They consider short-term gains and losses, but focus on the bigger picture – the future.  For example…

Companies invest great sums of money to train new employees when they start because they know the long-term benefit. They feel the training doesn’t cost. It pays.

Advertising is similar to the above example. It may cost to develop an ad, pay for the space, etc.  However, the ad is meant to bring in sales.  Successful advertising doesn’t cost. It pays.

Problem solving with customers is similar. I remember buying a Gateway computer. When it arrived there were all kinds of problems. I called Gateway and they ended up upgrading me to a more expensive computer, but they didn’t charge me the extra dollars. In appreciation of their efforts and their goodwill, I ordered two more computers. Short-term they lost profit when they upgraded me to a more expensive computer. Long-term they sold more computers and gained a loyal customer.

Sometimes tough decisions are made and what may seem like a tough decision, even a money losing decision, may have a positive result or payoff in the future.  And, what may seem like a benefit today may in fact hurt the bigger (future) picture.  So don’t make tactical errors.  Think about the short and long-term results.  Be strategic in making your decisions.

Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations.  As a professional speaker and author, Shep helps companies develop loyal relationships with their customers and employees.  For more information on Shep’s speaking programs and books, please contact (314) 692-2200. Email:  Web: For information on customer service training, go to  


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