Sometimes people argue about the little things, while missing the big picture.
Many people will be familiar with this situation. At work, frequently the time is spent in endless meetings, arguing over things which at the end don’t really matter.
People like to argue over tactics, without actually having an overall strategy in place.
Strategy vs. Tactics
Do you know what you want to achieve in this life and how you will do it? Does the place you work for have a clear vision of what it wants to do and how it wants to achieve it?
Most people don’t. And amazingly neither do most places of work.
Sure, you might spend countless hours arguing with your boss on whether you should do Action A, but no time is spent reflecting how doing Action A is supposed to contribute to whatever the ultimate goal is.
It’s amazing that people or places of work don’t have a clear strategy in place.
Strategy is something that is often misunderstood and rarely spelled out. Yet, having a clearly defined strategy is often the difference between success and muddling along in chaos.
If you were building a house, would you first define what it will look like and how you would build it, or would you first try to decide whether you need shovels and what length they should be?
If you want to build a house, you first need to determine what it will look like and how you will build it. Only then can you decide what types of tools you will build it with.
This is the essence of the strategy vs. tactics debate.
To help you better understand what each of the two terms means, you need to keep in mind that both words originally come from the military sphere.
In every military campaign, the goal is to win the war. However there are different strategies that you can adopt to do that.
You can rely on tanks and the blitzkrieg like the Nazi Germans did at the beginning of WW2 or on guerrilla warfare as many of the resistance groups did under occupation.
This is what falls under the term strategy. Each strategy then implies some tactics.
For example, if you are a guerrilla fighter, your tactics would consist of sabotage and small skirmishes. While if you are a tank commander who is tasked with implementing the blitzkrieg strategy, your tactics would consist of grouping tightly together large numbers of tanks and quickly overwhelming the enemies with them using speed and surprise maneuveurs.
If you are an MMA fighter, and you decide to implement the ground and pound strategy, then your tactics would consist of setting up your opponent with punches and kicks, and then in a surprise moment, bringing them down in order to control them and hit them with a barrage of punches as you sit on top of them.
Military is not the only sphere where the terms strategy and tactics are used. Today these two concepts are used for example in business. The meaning stays the same, just the domain changes.
In terms of running a business, Alfred Chandler, a management researcher, defined strategy like this:
“Strategy is the determination of the basic long-term goals of an enterprise, and the adoption of courses of action and the allocation of resources necessary for carrying out these goals.“
Resources are limited and you need focus in order to achieve your goals. Strategy gives you that focus.