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Strategy, Tactics & the Wisdom to Know the Difference

February 2012by Moshe Engelberg, Ph.D.

I can’t tell you how many times very smart clients have confused strategy and tactics. It always reduces their effectiveness.

So what’s the difference? Strategy determines how you will achieve your goal. It represents which map you will use to get where you are going. Tactics is the map. It’s all about the doing.

Let’s start with a couple battle examples: 1) Divide and conquer is a strategy. Sending half the troops in a frontal assault and half on flanking maneuvers are the tactics that executes on the strategy. 2) Go big, go long, or go home, were the three strategies being considered in the Iraq war. How many troops would be where and when were the tactics, and what got all the media coverage.

Marketing examples: 1) Be first to market is a strategy. Be a fast follower is an alternative strategy. The specific products or services you take to market, the resources you allocate, and the timing are all tactics. 2) First get people in the door then engage with them is strategy. How you will go about getting people in the door and converting them into customers are the tactics.

Is your strategy really strategy -- or is it tactics with the word strategy attached? And can your team tell the difference?

Moshe Engelberg, Ph.D., M.P.H.
President
ResearchWorks, Inc.
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Phone 858-487-8200
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