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The word strategy derives form the Greek word strategos which translates to the art of the general. This is often confused with tactics, from the Greek taktike. Taktike translates as organizing the army. In modern usage, strategy and tactics might refer not only to warfare, but to a variety of business practices.
Essentially, strategy is the thinking aspect of planning a change, organizing something, or planning a war. It lays out the goals that need to be accomplished and the ideas for achieving those goals. Strategy can be complex multi-layered plans for accomplishing objectives and may give consideration to tactics.
Tactics are the meat and bread of the strategy. They are the “doing” aspect that follows the planning. Tactics refer specifically to action. In the strategy phase of a plan, the thinkers decide how to achieve their goals. In other words they think about how people will act, i.e., tactics. They decide on what methods will be employed to fulfill the plan.
The tactics themselves are the things that get the job done. Strategies can comprise numerous methods, with many people involved in attempting to reach an overall goal. While strategy tends to involve the higher ups of an organization, tactics tend to involve all members of the organization.
Another term related to these in military operations is logistics. Logistics refers to how an army will be supported so they can employ tactics. Logistics form a part of plan, for example, when one looks at providing a military force with weapons, food and lodging.
Playing the game Risk® is an excellent way to illustrate the differences between strategies and tactics. When one first starts the game, one is dealt cards that assign owned countries to each player. Players then place military units in each of their countries. Having a plan is an important part at the beginning of a game. One must look at where to place extra military pieces in order to strengthen one’s base of operations for defense, and also to thus take over the world.
When a player forms a plan like, “I’m going to first gain control of South America,” then methods come into play. Each move will be a focused attack on other players who occupy territory in South America. How the pieces are moved, and the decisions to attack or regroup are methods for fulfilling one’s ultimate strategy, which is to take over the world and win the game. Even though luck through dice rolls plays a part in success of one’s tactics, good strategists often have an upper hand in Risk. If one doesn’t form a workable plan at the beginning of the game, one would have to be very lucky to win.