As a team leader or manager, people will look to you to describe the direction the team is heading in the future - the strategy. Here is a surprising definition from www.dictionary.com that makes me wonder how similar managing a group of engineers is to leading a war. Some days, I can definitely see the relation, but most of the time, I can't.
In military usage, a distinction is made between strategy and tactics. Strategy is the utilization, during both peace and war, of all of a nation's forces, through large-scale, long-range planning and development, to ensure security or victory. Tactics deals with the use and deployment of troops in actual combat.
The similarity is that strategy in engineering teams is the "large-scale long-range planning" (or in my terms, broad-scoped, long-term plan) to ensure success of the team (or "victory"). When you are being tactical, you are thinking about the current day-to-day events or tasks. That's what the engineers do - they are tactical. The managers need to think strategically. So how does one create a strategy?
Over the last few months, that has been my main task in my current role as a Test Manager at Microsoft. I had to create a Test Strategy for my team to help them realize how to move in the right direction and to help the other leaders in my team join in to this movement with clarity and passion. Here are the steps I took:
After it gets reviewed, the process is mostly done. Parts of the strategy continue to get over-communicated to the team until I start hearing the team repeating them back to me in normal conversation (that's the start of "the natural way they do work" that I stated earlier). And I revisit and refresh the strategy regularly.
I hope this helps you in creating a strategy of your own for your team. Without one, how do your team members know what direction the team is headed?