Strategy vs Tactics – What’s the difference?

It is not uncommon to find these two terms used interchangeably.  Of course, language in itself is not a problem, so long as everyone knows what is meant.  However, there is a difference and the tendency to fail to differentiate between the two can lead to problems in an organisation.

Strategy might be described as a high level plan of what is going to be done and how it is going to happen.  It is about the big picture and does not include detail.  As such it changes fairly infrequently.  For example in our church we are aiming to see ‘The Kingdom of God extended through outward-focused lives’.  We aim to do that through six strategic activities: Congregations, Celebrations, Coaching, Care, Compassion and Children and Youth work.  This could be described as our strategy.  Though there may be times when this needs reviewing, we should not be changing things regularly.

Tactics on the other hand are concerned with the detailed plan of what is going to happen.  These might and should change more frequently.  For example, we have just reviewed and changed our approach to Coaching, adding in some new courses and changing our approach to mentoring.

It is important to realise that organisations need both strategy and tactics.

Fast Company has a great article on this with some practical thoughts on how to get the most out of a combination of strateigc thinking and tactical action.

How does strategy and tactics play out in your organisation?

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