What sets an extraordinary manager apart from an ordinary one? Clear thinking, understanding the marketplace, being able to identify gaps and having good communication skills, are some key differentiators. Of these, clear thinking and strong market understanding set a solid foundation for strong career growth.

People often use the terms ‘strategy’ and ‘tactics’ interchangeably in day-to-day conversations because few know the difference between strategy and tactics. A thorough understanding of these concepts is a characteristic of extraordinary managers.

Strategy is an organization’s long-term plan that propels it toward its vision. The tactic involves dealing with difficult situations or tasks while striving toward a specific, predetermined goal.

 

  1. Difference Between Strategy And Tactics

  2. Difference Between Strategic Planning And Tactical Planning

 

Difference Between Strategy And Tactics

Being strategic differs from being tactical. Confusing the two can greatly alter your outcome. The table below touches upon the difference between strategy and tactics.

 

 StrategyTactic
DefinitionA roadmap for achieving an organization’s visionAn action aimed at achieving a specific goal
ConceptAn organized set of activities that may provide a competitive edge to an organizationRoadmap for achieving the strategy
FocusLong-termShort-term
NatureProactiveReactive
StageAction planAction
RiskHighLow
Level of flexibilityLowHigh
Formulated bySenior managementMiddle-level managers
FocusLong termShort term

 

Now, let’s dive a little deeper into the difference between strategy and tactics.

Definition

The definitions of the two terms clearly set down strategy and tactics difference.

Strategy: It’s an organization’s master plan, formulated by top management. It sets down the organization’s overall direction and activities. For instance, in the context of a battle, a strategy is a plan to defeat the enemy. The right strategy is what wins you the battle one day at a time.

In business, strategy is used for a similar purpose—gaining a competitive edge in the market. Strategy is based on practical situations in the market and variables known to the business rather than assumptions.

Tactics: The word ‘tactic’ originated from the Greek word ‘taktike’, which means ‘art of arrangement’. Tactics are a set of activities that help an organization adapt to a changing business environment. Again, in a battle context, tactics are what you follow to achieve the specific end-objective of staying alive one day at a time, and strategy is what drives the actions of the entire cavalry to defeat the enemy. While tactics alone can win you a few days, there are no two ways about having the right strategy to win a battle.

In a business context, tactics include the best optimal use of the resources available at an organization’s disposal (workforce, machinery, wealth) to be up to speed with the changing elements around it. Tactics are a subset and a support element to the strategy—you can have multiple tactics as part of the same strategic plan. Because tactics are driven by a changing market environment, they are likely to change frequently.

Difference Between Strategic Planning And Tactical Planning

Strategic planning vs tactical planning—which one should you follow? It depends on your objective. What’s the difference between strategic and tactical planning? Here are a few:

 

  • Strategic planning is about setting the context and defining activities an organization aims to undertake to achieve its vision. On the other hand, tactical planning is about finalizing a set of activities to be undertaken to achieve a specific goal.
  • Strategic planning is bigger than tactical planning. Tactical planning is a subset and support element of strategic planning.
  • Strategic planning aims to provide a competitive advantage to an organization. Tactical planning aims to identify ways in which a strategic plan can be implemented.
  • Strategic planning is done at the top level. Tactical planning is done at the middle level.
  • Strategic planning by nature is competitive, while tactical planning is preventive.
  • Strategic planning is expected to be done for the long term. Tactical planning is expected to be done in the short term.
  • Strategic planning works with a proactive approach, while tactical planning works with a reactive approach.
  • Strategic planning plays an integral part in achieving organizational goals and making a place for the organization in the market. Tactical planning plays an important role in finding out ways in which a strategy can be implemented.
  • Strategic planning is more risky compared to tactical planning. It’s important to get the overall strategy right compared to tactics, which can be adapted as per the business environment.

Now that you understand the strategy and tactics difference, it is important to understand their application on a day-to-day basis. You can simply select if a decision is strategic or tactical by asking the following questions:

  • Where does it stand in the organization’s journey?
  • Does it impact an organization’s long-term journey, or is it expected to achieve a set objective in the short run?

If it is important in an organization’s journey and will impact the long-term journey of the organization, it is a strategic decision. On the other hand, if it is just a regular task that is expected to achieve a set objective, you have a tactical decision to make.

Tactical planning comes in handy in the early years of one’s career, while the ability to think strategically boosts career growth. You cannot set long-term plans with short-term thinking and vice versa.

 

To understand this deeply, Harappa’s Creating Solutions course can help you structure your thinking toward being the best problem-solver in the room. You will analyze problems, find root causes and explore various perspectives toward the same problem. The AQR framework, Synthesis Technique and S-O-R Model are some important tools and methods that are a part of this course. Enroll today and make an impact on your organization’s critical thinking ability.

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