Archive from September, 2012
Sep 20, 2012 - management, philosophy, Society    No Comments

Strategy vs Tactics


“The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray”

As someone who is constantly laying plans it hurts to ad

mit the truth of what Robert Burns is trying to tell us. The fact that what seems to be an ingenious plan at the outset very often does not take the straight path that you had in mind but rather snakes and swerves as it slowly moves its way forward.

However do not make the mistake of reading this quote as “Plans often fail” so I should not try,  but rather that “Things are not as straight forwards as they might sometimes seem” so this might be tough.


I have spoken about this in earlier posts but there is an ethos amongst the US Marines that “No plan survives first contact with the enemy”

So we have to lay plans that are flexible to change if the situation calls for it. Once we start executing the imp of the perverse will come into play along with Murphy’s Law which means that improvisation is an absolutely essential skill.

The plan might say to “turn right” but if there is construction being done and this proves infeasible then possibilities are that we might just have to turn left instead.

Or you go out with the idea to place 100 of your widgets on the market through leasing only to find out that companies are more interested in a rental contract.

These are all “battlefield tactics” and should not be mistaken for an overall strategy.


Strategy is by definition quite inflexible and is designed to achieve whatever goal it is that you have set our for yourself or your company.

It is a set of basic rules to fall back on when your find yourself between “a rock and a  hard place” or when you need to make tactical decisions for your team.


If your goal is to sell 1000 widgets then your strategy might be to supply the largest widget consumers and your tactics to get a hold of the marketing managers in the top 3 companies.

As you progress you find that your tactic of getting in touch with the marketing directors is failing to produce results because they are not the organization decision makers.

Falling back on your strategy and re-evaluating it you still see that you want to capture the same 3 companies but change your tactics to getting in touch with the head of their procurement departments.

Having set up a meeting with the largest Company A and presented your product offering you are told that they have just signed a 5 year agreement with your competitor.

Even though your strategy failed to capture you A it is still sound in the fact that it gives you focus on where to direct your efforts (large widget consumers)

Again tactics change but the strategy does not.

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