Difference Between Strategy and Tactics

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 11, 2022, 12:55

The words Strategy and Tactic are often used interchangeably. However, by definition and by way of execution as well, they are both conceptually different things. Both are managerial terms; where one is used for planning, the other is used for implementation. The basic difference between the two is in the way they are practised by organisations.

Strategy and tactics are also different in terms of who formulates them, who implements them, what outlook each one carries, and the timeline of implementation as well. In this article, you can learn about the difference between strategy and tactics in great detail.

Definition of Strategy

Strategy can be defined as a guideline of action that the managerial officials of an organisation adopt in order to achieve the short-term and long-term goals. It acts as a framework with various arms and components according to which an organisation moves to achieve the desired state of existence.

Definition of Tactics

A Tactic can be defined as a particular action mobilised towards achieving a specific end result. In simpler words, a tactic is a single action that an organisation mobilises to achieve one specific goal; or a single method deployed towards an end that was set as one of the goals of the organisation.

Difference Between Strategy and Tactics

The table below clearly explains the differences between strategy and tactic. Let’s understand what these differences are:

Attribute

Strategy

Tactic

Meaning

A wireframe or blueprint of the path a company needs to take in order to manifest its long and short-term goals, vision and mission.

A precision-based, focus-oriented action devised to achieve one specific goal of a company is called a tactic.

Fundamental concept

Strategies are basically plans in exhaustive detail that help companies achieve their goals.

Tactics are the pathway or the action that the company needs to take in accordance with the strategies laid out for the same.

What it is?

It is a plan of action.

It is the action taken on the plan laid out.

Who creates it?

Officials of the top tier; the decision-makers.

Employees of the mid-tier at an organisation implement it.

What is its nature?

Strategy is formulated to help companies stay in the competition and preferably beat it. So, it is competitive.

Tactics are deployed to be preventive of undesirable outcomes. So, they are preventive.

What kind of approach does it use?

Strategies use a proactive approach using analytics and forecasts.

Tactics use a reactive approach.

What is its outlook?

Strategies always have an outlook towards the future of an organisation.

Tactics always focus on the present task at hand.

What does it focus on?

Strategies are purpose-focused.

Tactics are task-focused.

How flexible is it?

Once formulated, strategies are not very flexible.

Tactics can be improvised, therefore they are highly flexible.

Is it risky?

Strategies can be hit or miss, therefore they have high risk.

Tactics focus on doing, therefore they are low risk.

Strategy and tactics are two arms of the same concept - while one deals with planning, the other deals with execution.

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FAQs on Difference Between Strategy and Tactics

Q.1) Does the strategy have to be done on a large scale?

Not necessarily. Strategy can also be an individual-level plan of action, for example, exam preparation strategy.

Q.2) Is a tactic a negative thing?

The tactic is merely an action undertaken to achieve some specific result.

Q.3) Is strategy enough by itself to achieve goals?

While the strategy does lay out a plan of action towards a goal, there is still the need to mobilise resources and deploy manpower to the field to take action on it. Strategy and tactics work together.

Q.4) Is strategy the first step or is tactic the first step?

Planning always comes before action. Therefore, strategy is always the first step.