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What are Business Tactics?

        posted by , April 14, 2013

Tactics are a new kind of mint.
~ Billy Connolly
Tactics are how business happens.

Business tactics are micro-strategies that take advantage of business situations as they develop. They are quick, actionable plans that support an organization's overall strategy.

Definition: Business Tactics

Business tactics are quick, actionable plans that take advantage of business opportunities as they arise.

Tactics are an essential type of planning that every business uses to achieve its goals. The following 9 guidelines may help you to apply tactics to business situations.

1. Tactics address gaps in strategy

If one thinks of strategy as a block of marble, then tactics are the chisel with which a master operates, in creating works of chess art.
~ Tigran Petrosian
The line between strategy and tactics is often blurry.

Most organizations set strategy at the top. Strategy trickles down from there. Your team objectives map to departmental objectives which map to organizational objectives.

In practice, tactics are often plans that address gaps in strategy. Strategy setting happens at a high level where details are missed. Tactics happen at every level and fill in the gaps.

2. Tactics take advantage of opportunities as they develop

Tactics happen close to the action. They take advantage of situations as they develop. If an organization's strategy is to boost revenue, an example of a tactic is a sales closing technique used by a salesperson to make a sale.

3. Tactics manage risks as they are identified

Tactics aren't only about opportunity they can also be used as defensive techniques such as risk management.

4. Tactics are quick

If your plans span many weeks and months that's usually considered a strategy. One of the advantage of tactics is the speed by which they can be deployed.

5. Tactics are less formal than strategies

Strategy setting is often a formal process. For example, strategies are often mapped to performance management objectives for people, projects and processes. Tactics tend to be a less formal level of planning.

6. Tactics are planned by those closest to the action

Tactics can be a top down planning activity. However, most often tactics happen close to the action. In many organizations, front line managers plan most tactics.

7. Ideally, tactics align with strategies, best practices, principles and ethics

The dynamic nature of tactics means that they may fail to align with organizational mission, strategy, principles or culture.

Organizations may set up best practices and ethical guidelines for tactics. For example, a sales team may establish sales principles.

8. Tactics are more obvious to competitors than strategies

All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.
~ Sun Tzu
Tactics are a powerful competitive tool. Your competitors may confuse your tactics with strategies.

Strategists commonly use tactics to send confusing signals to the opposition. For example, if your competitor is copying your every step you can make micro-investments in a large number of products. Your competitor may follow at great expense to their competitive focus.

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