Strategy v Tactics v Objectives for Startups

Big Red Car here. Bit of rain this morning in the ATX but it’ll be 70F before too long.

So The Boss is meeting with a particular CEO, brilliant chap.

They get talking about planning in general but the discussion leads to the differentiation amongst strategy v tactics v objectives.


Strategy is the view from 30,000 feet which provides guidance and insight into the big picture.

It is written in broad strokes and it is fairly general in scope. It can be a page and a half of writing.


Tactics is the view from 10,000 feet which provides more detail as to not only the long term outcome but how it is going to be done.

Tactics are the meat on the bones of strategy.

It is “how” to the “what” of strategy.

It may stretch to five pages of writing.


Objectives are the “boots on the ground” view of things and detail what specific people are going to do in the next month.

It is a “to do” list segregated by discipline and position.

Objectives can be voluminous.

The linkage

Strategy, tactics and objectives are increasing levels of granular detail that a company (and a CEO) uses to map the journey.

First, one determines the destination (Vision, Mission) and then one determines the best route to get there (strategy).

Then, the daily journey is planned with food stops and rest stops and bathroom breaks (tactics). In the old days, we used to call this discrete step a “business plan”.

Then, individual loads are assigned. The big guys have to carry the big loads. This is objectives.

Objectives then feed into job descriptions and the company’s performance appraisal system.

It is all linked together — Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values and Culture. [Click on the graphic below to see it at a larger size.]

There is a tendency to make this way more complicated that it really is. Remember that entrepreneurs were founding companies long before the advent of the Internet.

Important note: strategy v tactics v objectives — all have shorter shelf lives than ever before but the the good news is that you can revise them as needed. Take a look at strategy twice a year. Look at tactics quarterly. Look at objectives monthly. I promise that works.

Your generation did NOT invent sex or business.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Be good to yourself and one more person today. Everyone needs a little tenderness. Happy President’s Day!

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