Strategy or Tactic?

Is it possible to confuse strategy and tactics? Yes! I have encountered it numerous times in my career. Both strategy and tactics lead to the achievement of a goal, but they are different. Let’s look at an example.

Strategy: Become a world class manufacturing facility through reducing waste and developing the skills of the workforce.

Tactic: Implement lean tools to achieve the strategy.

Tactics need to shift to fit the situation, but the strategy is the overriding guide. On the surface this appears simple, but in practice is sometimes overlooked. In lean manufacturing, some groups may be so enamored with learning a lean tool that they believe implementation of the tool is the strategy. In some cases, they may even believe copying the tool exactly as they learned it is the only solution.

The lesson I learned from my Toyota trainer is that we should never copy a tool. We must first think, then learn, then implement a solution that fits our situation. Never copy without understanding. His favorite question was, “What is the purpose?”

Tactics change and shift depending on many factors. Strategy should be an anchor for the team. A vision that will keep people linked to a goal as they face their daily challenges.

Where have you become too attached to a tactic and need to revisit your strategy? Is your strategy driving your tactics or the reverse?