In 500 B.C., Sun Tzu, the Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who wrote The Art of War said you can’t win a war without a strategy and tactics. Why? Great tactics win battles but great strategies win wars.
That wisdom is just as applicable today. Whether it’s war, marketing, sales, research, business intelligence or personal, both are inextricably linked and co-dependent.
Sometimes, when people are creating a plan, there is confusion about whether something is a strategy or tactic. It’s important to know. As Sun Tzu states, the wrong application can influence the outcome.
Strategy or tactic? Here are 21 ways to tell the difference.
- Strategy is an idea; tactics are actions
- Strategy fulfills your predetermined goals and objectives; tactics and the things that make it happen
- Strategy is a plan for reaching a specific goal, while a tactic is the means you use to reach the goal
- Strategy does not depend on brilliant tactics for success; but even the best tactics can’t compensate for a lousy strategy
- Strategy identifies clear broader goals that advance the overall organization and organize resources; a tactic utilize specific resources to achieve sub-goals that support the defined mission
- Strategy is long term and changes infrequently; a tactic is short term and flexible to market conditions
- Strategy uses experience, research, analysis, thinking, then communication; a tactic uses experiences, best practices, plans, processes, and teams
- Strategy produces clear organizational goals, plans, maps, guideposts, and key performance measurements; a tactic produces clear deliverables and outputs using people, tools, time
- Srategy is the thinking aspect of planning a change; tactics are the things that get the job done
- Strategy requires a deliberate allocation of resources in a given direction; tactics are the choices one makes when executing a strategy – they are the means to an end
- Strategy answers the question: “Who are we?” Or, more specifically, what is it that we stand for. A tactic answers the question, “What do we do?”
- Strategy is done above the shoulder; tactics are done below the shoulders
- Strategy helps you understand outcomes and helps predict future outcomes; tactics are steps you take
- Strategies are a broad look at how a company will achieve its objectives; tactics are very detailed plans which must take into account the specifics of a tactical environment
- Strategy addresses the “why” of an operation and tactics address the “how”
- Strategy focuses on the big picture, the highest level scope of a particular unit in a given mission; tactics focus again on the small scale for a given unit
- Strategy is a matter of figuring out what we need to achieve, determining the best way to use the resources at our disposal to achieve it, and then executing the plan; tactics are the art and science of winning engagements and battles
- Strategy is proactive, and looks for the future. It focuses on the long term; tactics are any movement done in order to achieve a momentary goal
- Strategy and tactics are different, related, and intertwined. You won’t succeed with one and not the other
- Strategy is a general plan before the encounter and tactics is the way the strategy is played out
- Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat
Did this explain the differences between strategy or tactic to you? Does it help you with your plans? Are you applying them in the right way?