Strategy Vs. Tactics: Do You Know The Difference?

The origins of strategy and tactics lie in military definitions. Strategy represents the results that should be achieved, the overall approach or direction to be taken. The strategy of a defense force for example may be to occupy an enemy’s territory.  Tactics are the maneuvers to achieve the strategic objectives.  The tactics could include a surprise attack, driving a wedge through the opposing force or surrounding the enemy.

When it comes to taking these terms to the business theater, strategy and tactics are still the same. In business, strategy can be seen as the business long term objectives, based on an understanding of the environment and an understanding of the business organization or self-knowledge. Strategy defines what the business aims to achieve.  And with tactics on the other hand it relates to short term actions to gain an advantage. Tactics can be seen as the detailed business plan and how the strategic objectives will be achieved.

For some reason however, people have been arguing about the difference between strategy and tactics in business and leadership. There is confusion over the meaning of these terms and there appears to be no concrete consensus on the difference. Most have an overall sense that strategy relates to “bigger” things and tactics more to “small” things. Some feel that strategy is somehow better than tactics when it comes to planning. And, more often, one will hear someone in the workplace telling someone else to think or act “strategically” — when what they really mean is “be smarter.”



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