Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
— Sun Tzu (544 BC - 496 BC)
A brilliant strategy . . . can put you on the competitive map, but only solid execution can keep you there. You have to be able to deliver on your intent.
— Neilson, Martin & Powers, HBR, 2008

According to the actor Jeff Bridges, "execution is everything." Well, with all due respect to the Dude (or 'El Duderino', if you're not in to the whole brevity thing), no it isn't – as Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu pointed out in the sixth century BCE. To be effective, strategy and tactics and implementation (or 'execution') must go hand-in-hand – intent and capability must be aligned.

flickr telmo32 departing train station.jpg

Intent & tactics

Objectives provide intent, the 'why'; tactics define the 'what' and 'how'. Far too often, strategies consider these as an afterthought; but without the clear path from objectives to strategies to the means to execute strategies, they risk being impracticable or inoperable.


Without capability (and commitment), new strategies cannot be implemented. In a knowledge economy, capability revolves around what people know, their experiences and how they collaborate internally and externally to define needs and deliver results.


Implementing. Getting the job done. According to Aristotle, "excellence is a habit." We know a lot about excellence in organisations; it requires passion and commitment. These, in turn, rely on a clear strategic narrative and performance and motivation systems aligned to strategic intent. 



Well, more precisely, monitoring and feedback. Interpreting the effects of the firm's actions internally and externally and understanding what supports strategy and what detracts from it is critical to implementing strategy effectively.