Everyone knows the difference between tactics and strategy. It’s been written down in military and business books over decades. In short, strategy is an overarching set of goals, objectives and means, while tactics are a set of actions to achieve a certain end.

But here’s the real difference.

If a new initiative failed, would you quickly improve or replace it, or would you focus your efforts on a completely different project?

Back in the 1990s, it took Tesco six years and many, many iterations to create a profitable and scalable model for their Express format. The reason: moving into the retail convenience channel was a strategic move for Tesco’s management, not a tactical action.

A few years later, my employer, Boots the Chemists, made a move into the beauty retail market by testing a new format called Pure Beauty. Customers loved the concept, but footfall wasn’t big enough and the initial fit-out costs were too high. Unlike Tesco Express, however, there was no iteration of the model. Within 18 months the concept was canned and the focus returned to improving the performance of the beauty halls in Boots’ existing stores. The reason: the introduction of beauty-focused stores was not a strategic move for Boots’ management, it was merely a tactic to grow revenues.

What about your current initiatives? Which will you keep focusing on even if the first, tenth or twentieth iterations don’t quite hit the mark? And which will you drop if early results disappoint? The answer to those two questions will tell you where your strategic intentions really lie.

Off The Record: Songbird by Fleetwood Mac

In memory of Christine McVie, who died earlier this week, this gorgeous, tender ballad is my favourite song of hers.

For you, there’ll be no more crying

For you, the sun will be shining

And I feel that when I’m with you

It’s alright, I know it’s right

The Chief Officers’ Breakfast Club, 2023

The aim of the Breakfast Club is to provide senior and chief officers with a place to meet, gain new ideas and insights and learn from each other and our guest speakers. At the same time, the £500 membership fee has allowed Club to financially support 12 high-potential young athletes through our partner charity, SportsAid.

Over the past year, our special guests have included Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Sir Will Adderley (the deputy-chairman, ex-CEO and majority shareholder of Dunelm plc) and Ian Filby, formerly the CEO of DFS plc.

I will be sharing more details about the 2023 programme in the next few weeks, but if you would like to join the group, please contact me at stuart@morgancross.co.uk or call me on 01636-526111. It would be great to have you join!