Strategy and Tactics

Strategy and Tactics

It’s only the 4th of January but already I’ve had two conversations about one of my hot buttons.

Today’s went like this.

“We’re kicking off a strategic program, and we want it to succeed, can you help?”

“Of course” I reply. “What’s the goal?”

“There are seven projects in the program”.

I try again, “Great, what’s the planned outcome?”

“We need them finished by the end of 2017”.

Hmm, perhaps another approach. “When the program and its projects are successful what will you have achieved?”

“A lot, trust me”.

One more go. “What’s the overall strategy the program serves?”

I hear a frustrated sigh at the other end. “The program is the strategy”.

I surrender. “OK, tell me about the projects”.


It’s something I find really useful to remember and very powerful.

A Goal is essential – otherwise, like Alice in wonderland, if you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t matter how you get there.

A Strategy is the overall approach to meeting the goal. Some outsell competitors, others outlove their clients, some decide to be first movers, some focus on trust and reliability, while some even have a strategy of doing nothing differently (hey, I don’t judge).

Tactics. These are the things which execute the strategy. Unless the strategy is to do nothing, then tactics are executed via projects and programs. Unless the projects and programs are clearly essential to executing the strategy and the goal, they run the risk of chewing up time, money and resources, as well as derailing the strategy and taking the focus off the goal.

The following shows it a bit more clearly.