The Big Difference Between a Goal, a Strategy and a Tactic

Strategic business planning made easy

At the beginning of the year, we generally go through varying levels of strategic planning with our clients. It is a fun process, that gets everyone thinking about where the organization should go and it always sparks lively debate.

As part of the process, the group generally identifies their goals and then are asked to start identifying the strategies that could be deployed to get them there. Inevitably, people get mixed about the difference of a goal, a strategy and a tactic, so I though I would provide a brief overview with a simple example that will walk through the difference.

GOAL

A goal is like a destination. It is a tangible thing you want to accomplish. (see the blog link below for goal setting tips). The most important thing is a goal should be specific and you should be able to clearly check it off once it is accomplished. Goals generally are in line with vision and mission of the organization.

3 Powerful Tips to Building Achievable Goals

For our example, we are going to say that our goal is to get to Victoria, BC. So, the goal will be, “Be physically in Victoria, BC by June 2023.”

STRATEGY

A strategy is like the transportation to get your goal. There are a lot of different approaches one might take to achieve a goal. The approach an organization might take would largely be dependent on their internal strengths and weaknesses and it might depend on what they believe to be the opportunities they want to take advantage of or the threats they want to avoid. Two different businesses could have the same goal, but approach it very differently.

For our example, to get to Victoria, BC, we could drive, walk, swim, take a bus a ferry or an airplane. There are a lot of different strategies that we could use and in fact, there could be a combination of strategies that could be utilized to achieve the goal. The strategies we are going to use are; take a plane to Vancouver and take a ferry from Vancouver to Victoria, BC.

TACTICS

Tactics are like road signs or markers contained with in the strategy to keep everyone on track. Tactics are the individual steps or actions that need to be taken related to the strategy. It can take an entire team to implement a strategy to achieve a goal, so it is broken down into tactics for a couple of reason; individual tactics could be delegated to different individuals, it allows the group to put together a timeline so that they know by completing the tactics, it should mean that they will achieve the goal, it allows the team to monitor their progress. Again, tactics should be specific so that you can check them off.

For our example, the tactics for “take a plane to Vancouver”, would be; order place tickets in December, order luggage in May, pack luggage in June and travel to airport in June. There would be additional tactics to support the “take a ferry from Vancouver to Victoria, BC”, that would include; investigate the ferry schedule in December, identify transportation from airport to ferry in December and order ferry tickets in June.

As you can see it is like a hierarchy. From your vision, you set goals. Once you have the goals, your determine the strategies you want to use to get you there. As part of each strategy you identify the tactics that need to be accomplished and then you monitor your progress in achieving those. The idea is that if you focus on implementing the tasks, you will ultimately achieve your goals and thus your vision.

Hope this makes it a little easier to understand. Now get out there a build your plan or get some help building one because a good plan is a cornerstone in building and growing your business.


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