Propose what you want to do...

Recently I wrote a blog outlining the three steps for getting things done and wanted to take some time exploring the steps a little deeper — what will make this even more fun is my friend Renée Cormier is writing a complementary series of blogs to help with the exploration (see her blog).


I thought I’d start with the first step in the process of getting things done, because unlike a Quentin Tarantino* film, it is important to start at the beginning:

Propose what you want to do

The operative word in this step is “propose” and is important for two reasons. Firstly it’s a verb so it represents action and that’s what getting things done is all about, and secondly, the word represents what needs to be done:

pro·pose [prəˈpōz] VERB — put forward (an idea or plan) for consideration or discussion by others.

At the heart of this is the need to put forward an idea — you need to articulate and illustrate what you want to do. You need this to be done in a way that it’s easy to understand and speaks to how you will measure success with respect to your goal; It is also important to remember your proposal (idea or plan) needs to either solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity. Proposing what you want to do needs to be as tangible as possible (in a figurative sense for sure, or better yet, literally — everyone likes to play with a prototype).

As part of my thought process (and before I started writing) I read Renée’s first blog and she had outlined five points for consideration:

  • Too much change is counter-productive.

  • Making a decision is still better than never making a decision.

  • Choosing to make the best of your circumstances is a great way to make sure you are successful.

  • Do what makes your heart sing.

  • Do what scares you a little

At first I couldn’t help but think these weren’t really points that help you get things done but rather considerations for establishing goals; that’s when I took a deep breath of recognition that I’d forgotten one of the most important steps regarding getting things done — establish your goals and objectives. In my own defence, I did bury the important of goals (and their alignment) as I expanded on the step, but Renée had reminded me that establishing goals and objectives should be the first step (it seems I didn’t really start at the beginning after all).

With some quick revisions, I am now suggesting there are four steps to getting things done —

Establish your goals and objectives

Propose what you want to do

Debate what you want to do and make a decision how to proceed

Execute on what you want to get done, and do it

I always appreciate Renée’s thinking and blogging — it has helped me develop my own thinking and ultimately some of the blogs I write. I am better for it. This is a nice segue into my next blog on step three don’t you think? I can’t wait to read what Renée has to say because I know it will be thought provoking.


*If you are not familiar with Quentin Tarantino, he is a great writer and director who seems to start many of his films in the middle of the story.

Where have all the tacticians gone?


My experience is when you get into discussions associated with Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Tactics, Stratagems, Tacticians and the like, it quickly turns into a fuzzy semantical stew that leaves everyone full but always slightly unsatisfied.

Goal [ɡōl] NOUN— the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result

Objective [əbˈjektiv] NOUN— a thing aimed at or sought; a goal

Strategy [ˈstradəjē] NOUN— a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim

Tactic [ˈtaktik] NOUN— an action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end

Stratagem [ˈstradəjəm] NOUN— a plan or scheme, especially one used to outwit an opponent or achieve an end

Tactician [takˈtiSHən] NOUN— one versed in tactics

and the like [and, (ə)n] [T͟Hē, T͟Hə] [līk]— and similar things; et cetera

See what I mean?

After all these years whenever I find myself getting into the stew I always ground myself with a simple story that was told to me many years ago... 

A very long time ago there was an island city named Andorra that was the envy of all the land — the only way to reach the city was over four bridges that linked the city with the mainland. One day a particularly envious King in a neighbouring kingdom called his council together and said this — 

  • My goal is to conquer the city of Andorra and make it part of my kingdom before the end of the year.
  • The strategy to do this will be to starve the inhabitants into surrender.
  • The tactic we will use to accomplish this is destroy the bridges so the city cannot get any food.

And with that, the King went about the task of achieving his goal.

I've always liked this story because it is a reminder of how we can complicate things with nuisance and semantics, and it is a strong example of what a goal, a strategy and tactic truly represent — something easily translated into various situations.

I also like this story because you may have been saying to yourself that just destroying the bridges won't work because the people of Andorra can always fish or have food brought in by boat (which is a very good point, as well as a very important reminder) — there is one goal, maybe a handful of strategies, and a large number of tactics needed to ensure the goal is achieved. 

Unless you are tactically effective, you will never achieve your strategies and most definitely not your goal.

If this is true, and I believe it is, why does everyone want to be a strategist? Why do many people, in some form or another, say they are good at strategy, a senior marketing strategist, or a strategist to something (or someone) very important? Is it because deep down we all want to be king? Although, if we are all king, how does anything actually get done — I mean, who is actually going to destroy the bridges?

Where have all the tacticians gone? Maybe they are just strategists in disguise.