Differenciation of strategy from policies and tactics

Strategy v/s Policies

Strategy has often been used as a synonym of policy. However, both are different and should not be used interchangeably

  • Policy is the guideline for decisions and actions on the part of subordinates.
  • It is a general statement of understanding made for achievement of objectives.
  • Policies are statements or a commonly accepted understanding of decision making.
  • They are thought oriented.
  • Power is delegated to the subordinates for implementation of policies.
  • In general terms, policy is concerned with course of action chosen for the fulfillment of the set of objectives.
  • It is an overall guide that governs and controls managerial actions.
  • Policies may be general or specific, organizational or functional, written or implied.
  • They should be clear and consistent.
  • Policies have to be integrated so that strategy is implemented successfully and effectively.

For example, when the performance of two employees is similar, the promotion policy may require the promotion of the senior employee and hence he would be eligible for promotion.

  • Strategies on the other hand are concerned with  the direction in which human and physical resources are deployed and applied in order to maximize the chances of achieving organizational objectives in the face of environmental variable.
  • Strategies are specific  actions suggested to achieve the objective.
  • Strategies are action oriented and everyone in the organization are empowered to implement them.
  • Strategy cannot be delegated  downward because it may require last minute decisions
  • Strategies and policies both are the means towards the end.
  • In other words, both are directed towards meeting organizational objectives.
  • Strategy is a rule for making decision while policy is contingent decision.

Strategy v/s Tactics

Strategies are on one end of the organizational decisions spectrum while tactics lie on the other end.

Carl Von Clausewitz , a Prussian army general and military scientist defines military strategy as making use of battles in the furtherance  of the war and the tactics as “the use of armed forces in battle”. A few points of distinction between the two are as follows;

  • Strategy determines the major plans to be undertaken while tactics is the means by which previously determined plans are executed
  • The basic goal of strategy according to military science is to break the will of the army, deprive the enemy of the means to fight, occupy his territory, destroy or obtain control of his resources or make him surrender. The goal of tactics is to achieve success in a given action and this forms one part of a group of related military action
  • Tactics decisions can be delegated to all the levels of an organization while strategic decisions cannot be delegated too low in the organization. The authority is not delegated below the levels than those which possess the perspective required for taking decisions effectively
  • Strategy is formulated in both a continuous as well as irregular manner. The decisions are taken on the basis of opportunities, new ideas, etc. Tactics is determined on a periodic basis by various organizations. A fixed time table may be made for following tactics.
  • Strategy has a long term perspective and occasionally it may have a short term duration. Thus, the time horizon in terms of strategy is flexible but in case of tactics, it is short run and definite.
  • The decisions taken as part of strategy formulation and implementation have a high element of uncertainty and are taken under the conditions of partial ignorance. In contrast tactical decisions are more certain as they work upon the framework set by the strategy. So the evaluation of strategy is difficult than the evaluation of tactics.
  • Since an attempt is made in strategy to relate the organization with its environment, the requirement of information is more than that required in tactics. Tactics use information available internally in an organization
  • The formulaltion of strategy is affected considerably by the personal values of the person involved in the process but the same is not the case in tactics implementation
  • Strategies are the most important factor of organization because they decide the future course of action for organization as a whole. On the other hand tactics are of less importance because they are concerned with specific part of the organization

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