Primary definitions from dictionaries suggest that there is little difference between strategy and tactic. Thus, these two words have been used interchangeably. However, there are those who adhere to a more specific and stricter usage and differentiation between the two.
The difference between strategy and tactic
1. Duration: The primary difference between strategy and tactic is duration. Strategy is a plan or method designed to achieve goals and implemented over a long period of time. Note that a goal is a general statement that describes end results based on future aspirations or directions
On the other hand, tactic is an action or method carried out to achieve short-term targets or objectives. These objectives are specific and meeting them would mean achieving goals. As defined, objectives represent concrete actions or steps required to reach goals.
2. Purpose: Another difference between strategy and tactic is the scope of their purpose. Strategy involves a complex and lengthier plan or method that include definitions and justifications of goals, details of implementation, and patterns of decision-making that collectively govern the execution of tactics.
The aforementioned means that tactics are part of strategy. They are specific actions carried out to meet specific objectives. In other words, strategy is a plan and tactics are the means for materializing or realizing the plan. Furthermore, strategy is concerned with goals and tactics are involved with objectives.
3. Involvement: Involvement is another difference between strategy and tactic. Strategy is designed and implemented primarily by higher-ranking individuals within a group or organization. Examples of these individuals are board members or executives and senior managers within a business organizations or elected and appointed executives within a government or government agencies.
Tactics welcome a wider involvement from individuals. They are overseen by higher-ranking individuals but are specifically carried out by designated individuals with specialized competencies. Examples of these individuals are department or unit heads, supervisors, and team leaders, among others.
Conclusion: Strategy versus tactic
The differences between the two collectively denote that strategy supersedes tactics. To be more specific nonetheless, a strategy is a plan that defines and describes the guidelines for executing tactical actions. Furthermore, strategy answers the “what” and “why” of goals and objectives while tactics answer the “how” and “who” of such.
For a simpler differentiation, think of strategy as something that defines and describes the destination and tactics as the specific actions that would be carried out in order to advance along the way. Strategy lays down the path while tactics are involved with smaller steps.
It is interesting to note that the aforementioned differences between strategy and tactics also coincide with the differences between purpose, goals, and objectives. Thus, when it comes to developing and implementing strategies and tactics, it is important to know the definitional and practical scope of purpose, goals, and objectives.