5 Differences Between Strategic Planning & Tactical Planning

Like most things in life, too much of one thing can be a bad thing. This saying goes for planning as well. There are multiple types of planning, but 2 major types are strategic planning and tactical planning. Your plan will likely not be effective if you have one without the other.


Business planning is a lot like personal planning. Strategy planning is the intent or goal. We create these goals based off of a compilation of data & information that we receive. For example, 18-year-old James has just finished high school. He has no idea what he will do after high school. James decides to list the things he wants to accomplish after high school. So far he has researched different things he is interested in and narrowed it down to flying airplanes. James lists his career as a pilot. James also learned what goals had to be met before he could become a pilot. He has researched and analyzed this career for 4 months now, and he is certain that this is what he wants to do. James now has a strategic plan for his next steps in life. But now that James has the directions, what steps must he take to head that way?

James learns that in order to become a pilot he has to have a Bachelor’s Degree in the related field and some flight experience. But James doesn’t have any flight experience, how can he get some? James then outlines what steps he must take in order to meet the requirements to become a pilot. How things get done is what tactical planning is all about. Every little step that you take towards reaching your goal is tactical.

Strategic planning is a long term vision that requires a focus on defining the future. It is typically formed by leaders of an organization in the business, or yourself if it is something outside of the business. Strategic planning defines the “what” and “why”,  it is also aligned with the goals that you want to achieve. Tactical planning is a short term action that requires day to day execution. It is typically executed and defined by managers, or whoever is responsible for getting these tasks done in order to reach the goal. Tactical planning defines the “how” and “when”, and it is the actions it takes in order to follow the direction of the strategic plan.


The next time you want to create a strategic plan, don’t forget to include the tactical plan- the steps you must take to ensure you reach your goal. Both are very important individually, but also very effective when combined.



1.The intent or the goal. These are based on organizational objectives and data.

2. What needs to be done, or what goal needs to be reached, and why does this need have to be met.

3. The facts and research used to create the path and give directions.

4. Requires the focus of long term goals to be more effective.

5. Strategic plans are typically formed by those that lead the organization.



1. Putting the intent into action, by executing the requirements needed to achieve the goal.

2. Focuses on how it must be done, and when it must be done by.

3. The steps that have to be taken to follow the created path.

4. Requires day to day execution, while being efficient.

5. Tactical plans are generally carried out and defined by managers, or those that are in charge of teams.


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