Greeks gave us strategy vs. tactics: Now understand the difference

greek warriors

If you are in the military or in business It’s important to understand the difference between strategy and tactics. They are often misused and/or misinterpreted by people in a work setting.

Millennia ago, the Greeks used the words “Strategos” or “Taktika” for very specific military needs.

In grecian armies, like that of the Spartans or the Athenians, generals would often march their forces to the battle ground. When possible the general would quickly send horsemen to the high ground to get a “fly over” view of enemy forces to gauge their numbers, their arsenal (archers, cavalry, chariots) and their formations. The horsemen would take in as much information as possible to help device a strategy, then quickly ride back downhill to the general to let him know what the army was up against.

The general then mapped out a strategy that might have answered questions like, should we attack and weaken their left flank before marching down center-field? Should we leave center-field open and focus our attention on the enemy’s flanks? Should we recede and wait for them to come to us? Should we negotiate for peace since they have a larger force?

To implement the strategy, the general would device clear and specific tactics and put commanders in place to enforce them. Ex: We’re going to attack their left flank with cavalry, our legions will march down the center of the battlefield to break up the enemy’s forces, our archers will cover our right flank from a few hundred yards away and decimate a large portion of the enemy’s troops while our legions march forward.

See the difference? A strategy is a grand plan, a tactic is a specific measure implemented to push the grand plan forward.

 You can’t have strategy without tactics… if you do it’s called dreaming. You can’t have tactics without strategy… if you do it’s called chaos.

It’s easy to fly over and get a bird’s eye view view of what we’re up against only to forget to land and kill something. Now stop dreaming and go kill something.


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