Definition Definition

Strategy vs. Tactics with Their Meanings and Characteristics

Strategy vs. Tactics

Strategy and tactics are two concepts frequently used in various circumstances to achieve specific goals. While strategy and tactics have their origins in wartime language, they are now used to think ahead in multiple fields.

Sun Tzu, a Chinese military theorist penned, "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy are the noise before defeat,” in his book titled- The Art of War some 2,500 years ago. Tactics and strategy aren't in competition; they are on the same side.

The expressions are usually correlated in real life. For example, specify how to run the table in games, wars, or business. However, as you explore strategy vs. tactics more closely, you'll see how they are related and differ.

The contrast between strategy and tactics is still crucial. It fills the gap between understanding what you would like to achieve and figuring out how to get there. A strategy is a collection of objectives or plans that determine where you need to go. Tactics are the approach you take to carry out your strategy.

If anyone tries to achieve their goals simply through strategy, they will fail because tactics are the actionable steps that bring you where you should go. Changing tactics is simple—just discontinue whatever you're doing and change your direction. You can modify the tactics without altering your overall approach or focus. On the other hand, changing strategy is far more complicated—like attempting to reroute a small boat; it's certainly doable but challenging and time-consuming.

Check out the Comparison Table

What is Strategy?

A strategy is a collection of coordinated activities that leads to a specific goal. People utilize approaches to increase their productivity or financial soundness in their daily life. Consider strategy a methodology, framework, or sequence of actions to achieve a specified objective, long-term goal, or intended direct result.

It's pointless to begin any debate or game strategy without determining the end goal. Your approach is defined by the most significant goal - the one that supports and influences everything else. Your approach should answer this question, "What I want to do, how should I do it, then why should I get into it?"

For example, A recently employed management trainee devises a plan to advance the business. He uses his abilities and overcomes obstacles as part of his approach. The overall method you use to achieve the list of standards you've selected is known as strategy. There is always a more effective strategy or specific goal in a battle. A captain, for example, may try to attack rebel territory utilizing missile launchers. That's how the strategy works. To put the strategy into action, the leader of an armed unit will have to research the geography and develop tactics to meet the target.

Characteristics of Effective Strategy

Strategies can be determined by their distinct characteristics and some of the primary ones are listed below -

  • The strategizing process results in no immediate action.
  • They are measurable; otherwise, one wouldn't know if they are achieving the set goals.
  • Implementation is often grounded on highly complicated, unclear and uncertain information.
  • Goals are achievable through tactics that make the strategy work and it doesn't rely on forces you cannot control.
  • Requires constant and transparent communication. It should serve as a guide for one's choices and behaviors.
  • Strategies don’t change but evolve with businesses, people and situations concerned. 

What is Tactics?

Tactics are the everyday actions that must be taken in order to drive a strategy to its ultimate goal. A good tactic serves a specific role in a plan. It has a set period of time in which particular actions will be accomplished and their effects evaluated. It's practical, and it's designed for smaller stages and a quicker timeframe.

Tactics can be evaluated based on their expenses, efficiency, or alignment with the strategies that are designed to support them. It is viewed as a technique that combines all the resources and capabilities, including people, procedure, technology, capital and other components to quickly adapt to different circumstances.

Tactics are the ongoing policy choices that really should be developed in order to pursue a strategy. Some corporations, for example, may relate to such tactics as corporate strategy. A tactic can be implemented within the same specified schedule and functions within the organization to execute and assess, and it is supported by specific goals.

These short-term activities can benefit a company's long-term strategic objectives. Strong tactics have a defined goal and are integrally tied to the overall strategy of the organization. Tactics are both dependent on and supportive of the plan. A single strategy can have an endless list of tactics.

Characteristics of Tactics

Tactics have distinct characteristics of their own that set them apart and knowing them can help resolve the confusion. These are as follows:

  • Tactics are the steps you take to accomplish a certain goal.
  • The most effective use of resources at a company's disposal is referred to as tactics.
  • Tactics are a subset of the strategy and a supporting element of it; you can have many tactics in the same strategic plan.
  • Because tactics are influenced by the dynamic market, they evolve as needed.
  • If necessary, the tactical plan can be revisited more frequently.

Key Differences Between Strategy and Tactics

Although both relate to the particular path followed to accomplish everything, strategy and tactics are frequently mixed up. However, strategy is much more complex and the primary distinctions between them are as follows -

Comparison Table




What is it?

Action plan


Focus on

Ultimate Purpose

Short-term Tasks



Tasks at hand





Identify clear broader goals

Utilize specific resources to achieve sub-goals


Long Term; changes infrequently

Short Term; flexible to specific market conditions


Produces clear goals

Produces clear deliverables


Overall objective

Specific resources assigned


Uses experience, research, analysis, thinking and communication

Uses experiences, best practices, plans, processes and teams

The differences between strategy and tactic hinted in the table above are elaborated on categorically for ease of understanding -

  • Definition: Tactics are well-planned activities that serve in the achievement of a goal. The strategy is a comprehensive design that verifies that the project's goals are met. Tactics are a subset of strategy; without a strategy, tactics are useless.
  • Purpose: The goal of tactics is to figure out how to put a strategy into action. Strategy, on the other hand, is a comprehensive collection of operations that can assist a firm in gaining a competitive edge.
  • Business Implementation: Line managers develop tactics, whereas upper-tier Executives develop strategies. In businesses and other organizations, top-level managers often set various strategies to set a goal. For example, One may select a strategy to achieve a 20% increase in sales within the next three months. To implement the planning, line managers may have to develop different tactics to complete the set target to implement planning. 
  • Risk: Compared to strategy, tactics present more manageable risk. When someone sets a goal or strategizes, they have to lay out the tactics first. Sometimes, these tactics don't go as planned and one may have to change tactics and choose the ones that contain lower risk. But when someone's strategy goes wrong, they may face  considerable risk. 
  • Nature: Tactics are proactive, whereas strategy is dynamic.
  • Duration: Tactics are characterised to have a short drive, but the strategy is a long-term passage that allows the individuals or organisations to hop from one situation to another. As a result, it will last longer.
  • Approach: Tactics often alter as circumstances change, but the approach or strategy stays consistent over time. Unlike strategy, tactics use a measured approach.

Practical Example

Here is a few examples of how people or corporate strategists may realize their objectives by combining solid strategy and effective tactics.


Let's consider the example of how a company may transition from a high-level strategy to a detailed set of tactics to make the gap clearer. We’ll use “HK Designer & Co.,” an imaginary fashion designing company:

Differentiation Strategy

HK Designer & Co. will succeed by creating one-of-a-kind designs with a traditional vibe and cutting-edge technology that their competitors can't match, allowing maximized profits and a loyal customer base.

Objective: Be recognized by the industry as the leading fashion designing company in the digital sphere.

Tactic 1: Launch a new and innovative digital trial section that would allow customers to try our dresses out virtually through our newly launched app.

Tactic 2: Send out free designer dresses to popular celebrities and invite them to give verified reviews on our app.

Tactic 3: Create a digital marketing strategy that incorporates TikTok and Instagram promotional opportunities to gain a competitive advantage by attracting Gen Z.


Suppose David is in the final year of his undergrad life. As he couldn't achieve a good CGPA in his initial years, he decided to give his best in the upcoming exams. 

Improvement Strategy: 

David is planning a routine that would allow him to study timely and achieve a 3.50 CGPA. 

Objective: David’s goal is to achieve an overall CGPA of 3.50 out of 4.00 in the next semester. 

Tactic 1: He divides all the activities he does the whole day. He listed the names of the activities. 

Tactic 2: He allocated specific time for specific activities for the next three months so that he doesn't miss out on doing his regular activities as well as doing his studies timely. 

Tactic 3: Setting small targets that need to be achieved in order to complete a chapter and specific subjects. 

As you've seen, each of your long-term strategies and corresponding goals will most certainly be addressed by many tactics. Furthermore, your ultimate strategic planning will very certainly comprise dozens, if not hundreds of short-term plans or tactics.


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