Mind Readings: Frameworks and Checklists

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Mind Readings: Frameworks and Checklists

Strategy and tactics are commonly intermingled and they really shouldn’t be. Here’s the difference.


In this episode, the speaker talks about the difference between strategy and tactics. He says that strategy is like a menu, while tactics are like recipes. He suggests that if you want to be doing more strategic work, you should be working with more menus (frameworks). If you want to improve the tactics and execution in your company, you can sit down and make better recipes (checklists).

Mind Readings: Frameworks and Checklists

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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Christopher Penn 0:15

In this episode, let’s talk about frameworks and checklists.

I was at an event recently Content Marketing World, listening to one session and seeing a presenter kind of commingle strategy and tactics, right.

What are we going to do? And how are we going to do it kind of thing.

And they’re commonly intermingled, and they really shouldn’t be because they’re different things, or different things.

Generally speaking, if you’re talking about strategies, you should be doing things and working with things like frameworks, for example, some kind of framework that helps you eat, elucidate your strategy, and make it easy for people to understand such as Porter’s five forces or a SWOT analysis, or the four P’s of marketing, right? These are frameworks that help you define your strategy.

The Trust Insights five P model is an example of a framework that applies to a strategy.

When you’re talking about tactics and execution.

Frameworks don’t really apply as much there they can to some degree, but at that point, you’re really talking about checklists, right? You’re talking about checklists, almost recipes or cookbooks on how do you do the thing in a repeatable, scalable, efficient, effective manner.

So if you find yourself working with frameworks, you’re probably doing strategy.

If you find yourself working with checklists, you’re probably working on tactics and execution, and the vice versa is true.

If you are being asked for strategy, and you’ve come up with a checklist you’ve not you’ve come up with a set of tactics.

If you have come up with a framework, then you you’ve probably started on the road to strategy.

Here’s a good analog for this.

A strategy is like a menu, right? When you go to a restaurant, and you read the menu, that is a framework, right? There’s appetizers, main courses, desserts, drinks, that framework helps you make decisions about what to have, what should I eat? And, you know, depending on the the restaurant, you go to the you could have a lot of challenging decisions in front of you, like, do I want the cramp or lay later? Do I want the steak? What kind of wine do I want the steak and so on and so forth.

The tactics and execution, those are the recipes.

Here’s how to cook a medium rare stick right, you get the center 235 degrees Fahrenheit.

And don’t let it go above that.

Here’s how to make mashed potatoes.

Here’s how to do this.

Here’s how to make a salad that that tastes good.

I always salt your tomatoes.

Because tomatoes contain glutamic acid, adding salt makes it form a natural form of MSG.

Those are all recipes.

Right? Very tactical, very executional.

And can you imagine sitting down in a restaurant, and having someone hand you a cookbook full of recipes and say up here, just use what we have available? You’d be like, I don’t need know how to cook it, man.

I just want to I just want to order some food.

Right? Can you imagine working in the kitchen saying okay, so the customer just ordered veal piccata.

And, and your sous chef just hands you a menu, like know how to cook this thing helped me out here.

That’s the difference between strategy and tactics, frameworks and checklists.

Right, the menu is a framework.

The recipe is a checklist.

If you are working with one type of content like framework or checklist, you know what you’re working on.

If you want to be doing more strategic work, right, if you’re you aspiring a career to be doing more strategic work, you should be working with more menus, you should be working with more frameworks, you should be introducing frameworks.

Even if your company doesn’t do that.

You could be blogging about it, putting it up on YouTube, things like that.

That’s how you move from one to the other.

Right? If you want to improve the tactics and execution in your company, maybe you’re the CMO, maybe your VP of marketing, and your marketing team is just not getting the job done.

You can sit there and yell like, well, this is this is not aligned with our strategy.

Or you can say show me your cookbook.

Show me your recipe show me your checklists show me the order of operations and how you do things.

And let’s sit down and make better recipes.

Right so you can step down into tactics execution to sticks and tune them up.

Christopher Penn 5:03

But the distinction between the two is really important.

You don’t want to commingle them.

You don’t want to mix them up.

You don’t want to think you’re doing one thing and not the other.

You don’t want to think that you’re doing strategy, but you’re actually doing tactics because then when someone comes along and says, show me your strategy, and you hand them a recipe, they’re gonna look at you like, you don’t really know what you’re doing, do you? So that’s my suggestion for how to tell whether you are working on strategy or whether you’re working on tactics.

You’re either working on frameworks or checklists, menus, or recipes.

Thanks for tuning in.

Talk to you soon.

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