― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
One major topic of discussion at Think! is whether a client who ask for strategy really wants a strategy or wants a list of tactics.
Here’s a guide to strategy and tactics.
STRATEGY VS. TACTICS
A strategy is a long term approach to achieve a big goal. It spans a longer period of time and describes an approach to achieve that goal. It’s often complex and muli-layered. A strategy allows you to set priorities and focus your resources. It should also define what success looks like.
Tactics are smaller, short term actions to deliver on the strategy. Tactics need to be evaluated and adjusted constantly based on what is learned along the way. But a strategy needs time and typically stays in place for a longer time unless the goal or other macro variables changes.
THE DANGER OF TACTICS WITHOUT STRATEGY
Some people are focussed on doing. Strategy to them looks nebulous and intangible. It doesn’t contain specific tasks. But random tactics without a strategy leads short term actions with unpredictable long term results. It’s like driving a car around without knowing how to reach your destination. And everybody on your team is driving their cars around in all directions hoping to eventually get there.
That’s why every tactic needs to deliver on a strategy. “Running ads to grow a Facebook page” is a tactic. But why are we doing it? What purpose does it serve? Why is it more important than anything else? And once we have more fans then what? And how does Facebook fit in with everything else?
WHAT TO ASK YOURSELF (AND US)
- Do you need idea for things to do for the next few months based on your existing strategy? You need a tactical plan.
- Do you an approach to reach a long term goal with starting points to go about it. You need a strategy with tactical starting points.