What is the difference between a strategy, stratagem and a tactic?

Strategy is one of those words that people sometimes use either too much or in a way that references it inaccurately. While there are almost as many definitions within a business context as there are organizations. Here are what I consider to be safe definitions of the base terms:

Strategy: Strategy is HOW you are going to accomplish a goal. At the corporate level, it is how your organization plans to position itself for greater success within a specific market.

Business stratagem: A stratagem is a play your organization makes to attain a goal or to gain an advantage over a competitor.

Tactic: Tactics are the specific activities used to accomplish a strategy. It’s like a component of an action plan.

Not everyone spends their time or prefers to spend their time thinking about strategy or tactics. There’s nothing wrong with that most of the time. The secret is to make sure that people who focus on tactics come up for air to ensure what they do contributes to a strategy. The relevance of almost any tactic degrades over time, so the work of alignment to strategy needs to be a part of your planning cycle.

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