Opinion

The differences between strategy and tactics

In a blog post, Jeremiah Owyang says that “strategy” and “tactics” need to work in tandem for an organisation to efficiently achieve its goals, but that these terms are often used incorrectly.

To assist understanding, Owyang breaks down the differences between “strategy” and “tactics”:

Purpose

  • Strategy: To identify clear broader goals that advance the overall organisation and organise resources.
  • Tactics: To utilize specific resources to achieve sub-goals that support the defined mission.

Roles

  • Strategy: Individuals who influence resources in the organisation. They understand how a set of tactics work together to achieve goals.
  • Tactics: Specific domain experts that maneuver limited resources into actions to achieve a set of goals.

Accountability

  • Strategy: Held accountable to overall health of organisation.
  • Tactics: Held accountable to specific resources assigned.

Scope

  • Strategy: All the resources within the organisations, as well as broader market conditions including competitors, customers, and economy. Yet don’t overthink it. To paraphrase Owyang’s business partner Charlene Li, “Strategy is often what you don’t do”.
  • Tactics: A subset of resources used in a plan or process. Tactics are often specific tactics with limited resources to achieve broader goals.

Duration

  • Strategy: Long Term, changes infrequently.
  • Tactics: Shorter Term, flexible to specific market conditions.

Methods

  • Strategy: Uses experience, research, analysis, thinking, then communication.
  • Tactics: Uses experiences, best practices, plans, processes, and teams.

Outputs

  • Strategy: Produces clear organisational goals, plans, maps, guideposts, and key performance measurements.
  • Tactics: Produces clear deliverables and outputs using people, tools, time.

Also published on Medium.

Bruce Boyes

Bruce Boyes (www.bruceboyes.info) is editor, lead writer, and a director of the award-winning RealKM Magazine (www.realkm.com) and currently also teaches in the University of NSW (UNSW) Foundation Studies program in China. He has expertise and experience in a wide range of areas including knowledge management (KM), environmental management, program and project management, writing and editing, stakeholder engagement, communications, and research. Bruce holds a Master of Environmental Management with Distinction and a Certificate of Technology (Electronics). With a demonstrated ability to identify and implement innovative solutions to social and ecological complexity, Bruce's many career highlights include establishing RealKM Magazine as an award-winning resource for knowledge managers, using agile and knowledge management approaches to oversee the implementation of an award-winning $77.4 million river recovery program in western Sydney on time and under budget, leading a knowledge strategy process for Australia's 56 natural resource management (NRM) regional organisations, pioneering collaborative learning and governance approaches to support communities to sustainably manage landscapes and catchments, and initiating and teaching two new knowledge management subjects at Shanxi University in China.

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