“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu
Several well known, fairly respected experts in the field of marketing, business, and consulting espouse the overarching importance of strategy. At the same time, these same so call bastions of business brilliance often relegate tactics as something subordinate, inferior, somehow less important—perhaps elementary or even juvenile.
While strategy is critical, integrated tactics are equally important. A strategy without tactics is a plan without hope of effective execution. Tactics without strategy is an exercise in inefficiency, an investment in random chance, and plain and simple—irresponsible planning and leadership.
A campaign of realistic impact in business, in life, in relationships, and in personal or organizational growth has to have a clearly defined, well founded, and soundly reasoned strategy. But it also needs well thought out, impeccably integrated, expediently executed, well measured tactics to be successful.
Tactics follow strategy, but tactics bring strategy to fruition.
In certain circles being labeled by a so called expert as “tactical” is an insult. At the same time being called “strategic” is somehow deemed to anoint you as a superior being. To me the labels applied as insults or complements is simple a testament to limited, uniformed thinking and opinion. Both statements represent a lack of understanding and education to the true meaning of each term.
In their simplest forms “strategy” and “tactics” can be defined as follows:
Strategy: “Plans, methods, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result.” Stated differently, what you’d like to have happen after hopefully deep thought, investigation, and consideration.
Tactics: “A procedure or set of maneuvers engaged in to achieve an end, an aim, or a goal; any mode of procedure for gaining advantage or success.” In other words—getting the job done.
In military circles both terms have more specific meanings and applications but in the world of business, personal action, and life activities, I believe the definitions above are much more effective. Strategy involves planning, tactics involve execution and implementation.
Perhaps General George S. Patton said it most clearly: “Good tactics can save even the worst strategy. Bad tactics will destroy even the best strategy.”
Please don’t call me a strategist or a tactician. I prefer to be considered a strategic tactician or a tactical strategist. Better yet, just call me someone who likes to plan and then put it into action.