Do You Know the Real Difference Between Strategy and Tactic?

Making the right career choice or business decision is difficult.

It might even get quite overwhelming.

Right?

You consider your alternatives, reconsider them, doubt a lot…

And most of the time, you end up making a short-term decision rather than having clarity on where you’re going.

There’s a way to change that:

Make a clear distinction between strategy and tactics.

It appears that what we often need is a better strategy, but what we’re looking for are tactics. We want a shortcut because we’re not keen on making difficult decisions.

How to Distinguish Between Strategy and Tactic

A strategy is a choice. It’s a long-term focus. It gives a direction and tells where you want to be.

A tactic is a means to an end. It’s a way to get closer to where you want to be.

A strategy sets you apart. It looks at the big picture and defines what makes you stand out. It tells you what to do and what not to do.

A tactic lies in the execution. It supports the strategy and depends on it. If the tactic doesn’t work, no worries; it wasn’t the best way to get you where you want to be. You may have lost a battle, but the war isn’t over.

The essence of strategy is making trade-offs. It sets the constraint that allows you to be creative.

A good strategy helps you figure out what are the most effective tactics. It’s the big decision you make ahead in order to guide your next actions.

Strategy requires long-term thinking.

Tactics give you immediate result.

So what’s the reason you might be looking for tactics and not a strategy?

Trying tactics is easy. But it takes courage to decide to embrace a new strategy.

Notes about the Difference between Strategy and Tactics

[1] Bernadette Jiwa makes an interesting distinction between strategy, tactics, and goals:

When we break this down it looks something like this:

GOAL = DESIRED OUTCOME
STRATEGY = COMMITMENT + PLAN
TACTICS = PROCESS + ACTIONS

Or expressed another way:

GOAL = THE WHY & WHAT
STRATEGY = THE WAY
TACTICS = THE HOW TO

For a good example of strategy, read the letter to shareholders Jeff Bezos wrote in 1997.

[2] Sun Tzu on strategy and tactics:

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

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