A Chief Officer of any kind, Executive or otherwise, is charged with
the *strategic* pathway of a company. That means understanding the
By way of example, think about a group of people who want to go from
point A to point B. They encounter a mountain. The "strategy" is to 1)
figure out a way past the mountain, 2) not get killed in the process,
3) consolidate at the other side and figure out what comes next.
The "tactics" are the details. Do we blow up the mountain, cut it in
half, drive over it, climb it, tunnel through it, walk around it, or
call it quits and go home.
Strategy is a method of optimizing one`s path toward a goal. That
optimization refers to and includes a final meaning for that goal---why
are we doing this.
Tactics are the specific approach options for overcoming particular
obstacles along the path toward a goal---how will we do this.
The CEO focuses on strategy---what`s the long-term goal(s) for this
business. The President focuses on tactics---how can I get each thing
done along the way.
In US politics, the President is the captain of the ship for 4 years,
making moment-by-moment decisions regarding whether or not to do
something right now. The political party is analogous to the CEO,
formulating the overall historic goals of the future of the country.
Because of its structure, the President can also play the role of CEO,
having a far-reaching "dream" of how the country will be after the
Administration is gone. The heads of staff, Cabinet members, and chief
operations people (like the Pentagon`s Chief of Staff) then handle the
tactical details of achieving the vision of the President---now acting
Imagine a football game. The goal is to win, scoring points. One
strategy would be to overwhelm the other side by strength and numbers.
No matter what happens, the overall plan is to always use force.
Another strategy is to sneak by everyone when they`re not looking. The
overall strategy is stealth.
The coach is the CEO. The quarterback is the President. The coach says
we`re going to sneak by everyone, throughout the game, whenever
possible. The quarterback then calls each play, designed so that many
players fall on other players, and when nobody`s looking, one guy runs
to the end of the field.
Strategy carries little moral judgement, it`s only a plan. Tactics
do carry moral and ethical values. Playing the game is a call for a
strategy to win. But playing by the rules is a tactical decision, and
cheating carries an ethical value.