Strategy vs Tactics

Understanding the difference between strategies and tactics (and, I would add, goals) is key to good business planning. This is subject matter I have covered previously and which, I am sure, I will cover continuously throughout this blog.

I never tire of effective ways to differentiate these elements, and was recently sent another gem to help us do just that.

This is a quote by chess grandmaster Ksawery Tartakower, who lived in the first half of the 20th century (and who better to comment on strategy and tactics than a boxer and a chess player?)

Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do; strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do.

Your tactics are your specific steps and actions. These are most effective when they are dictated by a strategy.

A business that focuses on tactics without considering strategy, risks performing actions that contradict each other, or are weakened by a lack of cohesiveness and continuity. The strategy is what determines business priorities and standards.

So first build a strategy of needs, standards and expectations. Once this is in place, you must act on it – employ tactics – to make it happen. In other words: there is something to do, and that something is listed in your tactics.

And when things change? If this blog is a tactic, and suddenly my entire reader base decides they no longer want to read blogs? Suddenly my tactic no longer applies: there is nothing for me to do. This is when I refer back to my Strategy, my Guiding Principles, as well as my business goals, and build new tactics informed by the change of circumstance.