•     •   10 min read

Strategy vs Tactics: What's the difference?

Strat­e­gy and tac­tics are two relat­ed con­cepts that are often con­fused. How­ev­er, in prac­tice, strate­gies and tac­tics dif­fer sig­nif­i­cant­ly from each oth­er, and these dif­fer­ences have a strong impact on busi­ness process­es and the devel­op­ment of com­pa­nies. In a busi­ness con­text, this means the spe­cif­ic actions teams take to imple­ment some initiatives. 

There­fore, this arti­cle is devot­ed to strat­e­gy, tac­tics, their capa­bil­i­ties, and your prospects from their mas­ter­ful use.

What’s the dif­fer­ence between strat­e­gy and tactics?

Strat­e­gy and tac­tics are terms that are typ­i­cal­ly found in a busi­ness con­text. The point is that many entre­pre­neurs will agree that busi­ness requires a care­ful and thought­ful approach. This approach allows us to use the con­cepts of strat­e­gy and tac­tics to man­age a company.


Under­stand­ing the dif­fer­ence between strat­e­gy and tac­tics is crit­i­cal to busi­ness suc­cess. Strat­e­gy pro­vides the over­all direc­tion, while tac­tics are the spe­cif­ic steps need­ed to achieve goals. While strat­e­gy is the action plan that takes you where you want to go, the tac­tics are the indi­vid­ual steps and actions that will get you there. You can think of the dif­fer­ence between the strat­e­gy and tac­tics as the strat­e­gy being the «what» and tac­tics being the «how».

We all know the phras­es tac­ti­cal plan­ning”, busi­ness strat­e­gy”, don’t we? It’s time to delve deep­er into these con­cepts and find out the goals, objec­tives, capa­bil­i­ties, fea­tures, and dif­fer­ence between strat­e­gy and tactics.

Def­i­n­i­tion of strategy

A busi­ness strat­e­gy is a high-lev­el, long-term plan aimed at achiev­ing spe­cif­ic com­pa­ny goals. Strat­e­gy deter­mines the com­pa­ny’s devel­op­ment course, its mar­ket posi­tion­ing and com­pet­i­tive advantage.

A busi­ness strat­e­gy helps a com­pa­ny focus resources on achiev­ing goals, make informed deci­sions, and ensure long-term success.


This requires the fol­low­ing basic com­po­nents of a busi­ness strategy:
  • Vision: a descrip­tion of the com­pa­ny’s desired future.
  • Mis­sion: defin­ing the pur­pose and val­ues of the company.
  • Goals: spe­cif­ic, mea­sur­able, achiev­able, rel­e­vant and time-bound goals that the com­pa­ny strives for.
  • Resources: allo­ca­tion of human, finan­cial and oth­er resources to imple­ment the strategy.
  • Lead­er­ship: pro­vide lead­er­ship and coor­di­na­tion to imple­ment strategy.
There­by, strat­e­gy is a vital tool for any com­pa­ny that wants to achieve long-term suc­cess. And that’s why devel­op­ing a busi­ness strat­e­gy is an ongo­ing process that must be reviewed and updat­ed regularly.

Def­i­n­i­tion of tactics

Tac­tics in busi­ness are a set of spe­cif­ic actions and meth­ods used to imple­ment a busi­ness strat­e­gy. Tac­tics focus on short-term goals and details, help­ing the com­pa­ny bring its long-term vision to life.

Busi­ness tac­tics help a com­pa­ny use resources effi­cient­ly, achieve its goals on time, and increase competitiveness.


Basic ele­ments of busi­ness tactics:
  • Plan­ning: devel­op­ing the spe­cif­ic steps need­ed to achieve goals.
  • Imple­men­ta­tion: car­ry­ing out planned actions.
  • Mon­i­tor­ing: mon­i­tor­ing progress and mak­ing adjust­ments as needed.
  • Moti­va­tion: encour­ag­ing employ­ees to work towards achiev­ing goals.
  • Com­mu­ni­ca­tion: ensur­ing effec­tive exchange of infor­ma­tion between employees.
If you were to com­pare strat­e­gy and tac­tics in an orga­ni­za­tion, more often you’ll find that an orga­ni­za­tion uses any num­ber of tac­tics but lacks an over­all strat­e­gy. This is a reminder of how impor­tant it is to reg­u­lar­ly review and adjust both strat­e­gy and tactics.

What makes a good strategy?

All effec­tive strate­gies have com­mon fea­tures. These are the signs by which they can be rec­og­nized, and these are also tips on how to build an effec­tive and promis­ing strat­e­gy for your company.


The char­ac­ter­is­tics of effec­tive strate­gies are:
  1. Com­pat­i­bil­i­ty with insti­tu­tion­al aims.
  2. Adapt­abil­i­ty.
  3. Clar­i­ty and understandability.
  4. Resource sup­port.
Each of these char­ac­ter­is­tics is crit­i­cal to a tru­ly strong strat­e­gy. To achieve suc­cess, a com­pa­ny must pay suf­fi­cient atten­tion to each of these para­me­ters. Let’s look at them in detail.

1. Com­pat­i­bil­i­ty with insti­tu­tion­al aims

Strat­e­gy must be direct­ly relat­ed to the com­pa­ny’s mis­sion, vision, and goals. It should be designed to max­i­mize their achievement.

Com­pat­i­bil­i­ty with insti­tu­tion­al aims:
  • Increas­es employ­ee motivation.
  • Improves resource efficiency.
  • Increas­es the like­li­hood of achiev­ing goals.
  • Reduces silos between departments.
  • Reduces inef­fec­tive expenses.
  • Reduces the risk of failure.

2. Adapt­abil­i­ty

The strat­e­gy must be flex­i­ble enough to change depend­ing on changes in the exter­nal envi­ron­ment (for exam­ple, the emer­gence of new tech­nolo­gies, changes in the com­pet­i­tive envi­ron­ment or eco­nom­ic crises).

The impact of adapt­abil­i­ty on busi­ness strategy:
  • Increas­es resis­tance to change.
  • Builds the abil­i­ty to respond to new opportunities.
  • Increas­es competitiveness.
  • Reduces the risk of strat­e­gy becom­ing obsolete.
  • Reduces loss­es from fail­ure to adapt.
  • Min­i­mizes the like­li­hood of failure.

3. Clar­i­ty and understandability

Strong strat­e­gy must be for­mu­lat­ed clear­ly and con­cise­ly so that every­one in the orga­ni­za­tion under­stands it. This ensures that every­one is work­ing towards the same goals.

How clar­i­ty and under­stand­abil­i­ty impact strategy:
  • Increase employ­ee engagement.
  • Improves con­sis­ten­cy of actions.
  • Increas­es imple­men­ta­tion efficiency.
  • Reduce mis­un­der­stand­ings with­in the team.
  • Pro­tects against incon­sis­ten­cy of actions.
  • Reduces the risk of errors.

4. Resource support

A strong strat­e­gy requires suf­fi­cient resources such as finance, per­son­nel, tech­nol­o­gy, and information.

In turn, resourcing:
  • Increas­es the like­li­hood of success.
  • Strength­ens the effec­tive­ness of strat­e­gy implementation.
  • Increas­es employ­ee motivation.
  • Reduces the risk of failure.
  • Pro­tects against dis­trust of management.
  • Min­i­mizes employ­ee demotivation.

What makes good tactics?

As we’ve learned, tac­tics are short-term steps that will help you achieve small­er goals along the way to exe­cut­ing your strat­e­gy. Tac­ti­cal plan­ning is the break­ing down of a strate­gic plan into short-term actions. These actions are suc­cess­ful if they have the fol­low­ing attributes:
  1. Con­sis­ten­cy with the over­all strategy
  2. Flex­i­bil­i­ty
  3. Con­trol­la­bil­i­ty

In addi­tion to these aspects, suc­cess­ful tac­tics should also be real­is­tic, inno­v­a­tive and clear­ly com­mu­ni­cat­ed to all employ­ees. We will take a clos­er look at the key fea­tures of good tac­tics that sig­nif­i­cant­ly increase the chances of suc­cess­ful imple­men­ta­tion and achiev­ing the desired results.

1. Con­sis­ten­cy with the over­all strategy

Tac­tics should be direct­ly relat­ed to and flow from the over­all com­pa­ny strat­e­gy. It should be aimed at achiev­ing the goals set with­in the strategy.

If your tac­tics are har­mo­nized with your strat­e­gy, then it:
  • Increas­es the effi­cien­cy of resource use.
  • Increas­es the like­li­hood of achiev­ing goals.
  • Improves employ­ee motivation.
  • Reduces silos between departments.
  • Elim­i­nates inef­fec­tive expenses.
  • Min­i­mizes the risk of failure.

2. Flex­i­bil­i­ty

Tac­tics must be flex­i­ble enough to change depend­ing on changes in the exter­nal envi­ron­ment, such as the emer­gence of new tech­nolo­gies, changes in the com­pet­i­tive envi­ron­ment or eco­nom­ic crises.

A fair­ly flex­i­ble tac­tic has the fol­low­ing capabilities:
  • Increas­es resis­tance to change.
  • Builds the abil­i­ty to respond to new opportunities.
  • Strength­ens competitiveness.
  • Reduces the risk of tac­tics becom­ing obsolete.
  • Reduces loss­es from fail­ure to adapt.
  • Min­i­mizes the like­li­hood of failure.

3. Con­trol­la­bil­i­ty

Tac­tics must be mea­sur­able and con­trol­lable. This allows for reg­u­lar mon­i­tor­ing of progress and mak­ing nec­es­sary adjustments.

Con­trolled tac­tics pro­vide the fol­low­ing advantages:
  • Increas­es efficiency.
  • Expands adapt­abil­i­ty.
  • Strength­ens the team’s con­fi­dence in the cor­rect­ness of the company’s course.
  • Reduces the risk of devi­a­tion from the strate­gic course.
  • Elim­i­nates inef­fec­tive expenses.
  • Reduces the like­li­hood of errors.
Devel­op­ing and imple­ment­ing suc­cess­ful tac­tics is a com­plex and time-con­sum­ing process that requires care­ful plan­ning, exe­cu­tion, and monitoring.

Exam­ples of busi­ness strat­e­gy and tactics

Com­pe­tent strat­e­gy and tac­tics devel­op­ment pro­vides invalu­able sup­port to a busi­ness. This plan­ning takes a lot of time and resources, but it is worth it.

You’ll see the impor­tance and pow­er of good strat­e­gy and tac­tics through three real-life exam­ples of strat­e­gy and tac­tics in a busi­ness context:

Exam­ple 1: Apple’s Strategy 🍎

Strat­e­gy: Become the mar­ket leader in con­sumer electronics.

Tac­tics

  • Devel­op­ment of inno­v­a­tive prod­ucts (iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch) focused on design and ease of use.
  • Mar­ket­ing: pre­mi­um posi­tion­ing. Cre­ation of the «Apple cult».
  • Sales: con­trol over sales chan­nels. Cre­ation of an Apple Store network.
  • Result: Apple has become one of the most valu­able com­pa­nies in the world.

Exam­ple 2: Star­bucks’ strat­e­gy for enter­ing
a new market ☕

Strat­e­gy: Dom­i­nate the cof­fee mar­ket in a new country.

Tac­tics

  • Adapt­ing the menu to the tastes and pref­er­ences of local res­i­dents. Cre­at­ing café inte­ri­ors in accor­dance with local culture.
  • Pric­ing: afford­able prices, com­pet­i­tive with local cof­fee shops.
  • Mar­ket­ing: adver­tis­ing cam­paigns aimed at local audi­ences. Sup­port for social and cul­tur­al projects.
  • Result: Star­bucks became the cof­fee mar­ket leader in the new country.

Exam­ple 3: Improv­ing Nike’s Competitiveness 👟

Strat­e­gy: Become a mar­ket leader in sports­wear and footwear.

Tac­tics

  • Devel­op­ment of new tech­nolo­gies such as Air Max and Fly­knit. Coop­er­a­tion with famous athletes.
  • Mar­ket­ing: glob­al adver­tis­ing cam­paigns tar­get­ing dif­fer­ent tar­get audi­ences. Spon­sor­ing sport­ing events.
  • Range expan­sion: enter­ing new mar­kets such as fit­ness and every­day street style.
  • Result: Nike became the mar­ket leader in sports­wear and footwear.

Man­age strat­e­gy and tac­tics using work man­age­ment tools

Strat­e­gy and tac­tics com­ple­ment each oth­er. A suc­cess­ful strat­e­gy with­out effec­tive tac­tics is use­less. At the same time, effec­tive tac­tics with­out strat­e­gy can lead to chaos.

Man­ag­ing strat­e­gy and tac­tics simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, opti­miz­ing and exe­cut­ing them can be chal­leng­ing. Using com­pa­ny man­age­ment tools can make this task eas­i­er. Com­pa­ny per­for­mance man­age­ment tools can be invalu­able in help­ing you track and opti­mize strat­e­gy and tactics. 


One of the clear­est exam­ples is Work­sec­tion project man­age­ment ser­vice that allows to plan dof­fer­ent-term and track tasks, find bot­tle­necks, com­plete projects in time and make a work­flow absolute­ly transparent.

Track­ing task completion


  • Tools allow you to set SMART goals, cas­cade them from strate­gic to tac­ti­cal tasks, link tasks with KPIs and track progress in their implementation.
  • A visu­al sys­tem of sched­ules, Kan­ban boards and timers helps not to miss dead­lines and syn­chro­nize the work of dif­fer­ent teams.
  • Task progress reports allow you to iden­ti­fy bot­tle­necks and make course corrections.

Opti­miza­tion of busi­ness processes


  • Automat­ing rou­tine tasks frees up time for more impor­tant things.
  • Built-in chats, forums, and noti­fi­ca­tion sys­tems enhance com­mu­ni­ca­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion between employees.
  • Project man­age­ment to plan, con­trol and ana­lyze projects to achieve bet­ter results.

Track­ing strate­gic goals


  • Set­ting long-term goals and cas­cad­ing them into spe­cif­ic tasks for each employee.
  • Plan­ning and mon­i­tor­ing mar­ket­ing activ­i­ties, mon­i­tor­ing their effec­tive­ness and adjust­ing strategy.
  • Set­ting tasks for teams, mon­i­tor­ing dead­lines and qual­i­ty of work, track­ing project progress.

In this way, work man­age­ment tools can sig­nif­i­cant­ly improve the effi­cien­cy of imple­ment­ing busi­ness strate­gies and tac­tics. They help track progress, stream­line process­es, and increase trans­paren­cy and accountability.

It is essen­tial to choose a tool that suits the needs and size of your com­pa­ny. In this case, it is impor­tant to take into account such fac­tors as: func­tion­al­i­ty, ease of use, reli­a­bil­i­ty of the team work man­age­ment system.

How to build an orga­ni­za­tion­al strategy

Togeth­er we found out what is a tac­tics and what a strat­e­gy is. Are you ready to cre­ate a strat­e­gy for your busi­ness? In this case, you will find our guide to devel­op­ing a com­pre­hen­sive busi­ness strat­e­gy useful.

Define your goals
  • Describe the vision: Where do you want your com­pa­ny to be in the future?
  • State your mis­sion: What is your com­pa­ny’s goal?
  • Define strate­gic goals: What do you want to achieve in the long term?
Analy­sis
  • Con­duct a SWOT analy­sis: Assess the com­pa­ny’s strengths and weak­ness­es, as well as the oppor­tu­ni­ties and threats in the market.
  • Research com­peti­tors: Study their strate­gies, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Ana­lyze the mar­ket: Assess mar­ket size, trends, pric­ing and com­pet­i­tive landscape.

Now you can form a strategy
  • Choose a strate­gic focus: What will you focus on?
  • Devel­op a Com­pet­i­tive Advan­tage: How will you dif­fer­en­ti­ate your­self from your competitors?
  • Iden­ti­fy key suc­cess fac­tors: What fac­tors will deter­mine your success?

Plan the implementation
  • Break down goals into tasks: Turn strate­gic goals into spe­cif­ic tasks.
  • Allo­cate Resources: Deter­mine what resources you will need to imple­ment the strategy.
  • Set dead­lines: Set dead­lines for com­plet­ing tasks.
Mon­i­tor­ing and evaluation
  • Track the progress: Mon­i­tor task com­ple­tion regularly.
  • Eval­u­ate effec­tive­ness: Com­pare results with plans and adjust strat­e­gy if necessary.
  • Con­duct an audit: Reg­u­lar­ly eval­u­ate the effec­tive­ness of the strat­e­gy and make nec­es­sary changes.

Exam­ples of strate­gies for dif­fer­ent com­pa­ny types:

  1. Dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion Strat­e­gy: Offer unique prod­ucts or ser­vices that dif­fer­en­ti­ate you from your competitors.
  2. Cost lead­er­ship strat­e­gy: Reduce costs to become a cost leader.
  3. Focus Strat­e­gy: Con­cen­trate on a spe­cif­ic mar­ket seg­ment or product.
For the best results, involve all stake­hold­ers in strat­e­gy devel­op­ment: employ­ees, clients, investors.

Pro­vide trans­paren­cy and com­mu­ni­cate the strat­e­gy to every­one in the com­pa­ny. And be pre­pared for change: adjust your strat­e­gy accord­ing to changes in the market.

Devel­op­ing a com­pre­hen­sive busi­ness strat­e­gy and tac­tics is a com­plex and time-con­sum­ing process, but it is essen­tial to achieve long-term suc­cess. Use this guide as a start­ing point and adapt it to your com­pa­ny’s needs.

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