"Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do. Strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do." This is what Savielly Grigorievitsch Tartakower said about tactics and strategy. In the 20's of the last century, the son of an Austrian father and a Polish mother was one of the world’s best chess players. The grandmaster wrote books like "The Hypermodern Game of Chess" or "Neoromantisches Schach", which are both considered classics by experts. Even 50 years after his death, aphorisms like "The second best move is often the only right move" are still famous with chess players. Tartakow, who was a keenly experimental player, used to comment his private games with these and similar sayings, called Tartakowerisms.
The quote you read at the beginning of this article was coined from one of his games and is not only valid on the chess board. Savielly Tartakower pointedly stresses out the difference between tactics and strategy. Tactics determines the next move, strategy the course of the game. Economically speaking, this means operative versus strategic planning.
The "St. Gallen Center for Strategic Management" offers comprehensive services on this topic. Consulting services, targeted seminars, and in-house programs focus on the relevant points of strategic thinking and acting.
The higher your hierarchical level, the more important is the ability to plan in the long term. While project managers focus on the next milestone ahead, entrepreneurs envision the years to come. This is the only way to detect new trends, develop businesses lines, and gain an edge over competitors. The day-to-day business is managed by other, specifically recruited, executives. That is exactly how it is meant to be. Strategies always arise in the overall context. However, they should be isolated from constricting internal processes. So, Savielly Tartakower was right: "Strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do."
Romed Guntern, lic.oec. HSG et lic.iur. HSG
Chief Executive Officer of the SGMI Institute of Management St. Gallen and Director of the Center for Strategic Management
Romed Guntern studied at the University of St. Gallen (HSG) and completed his licentiate in economics (lic.oec.) and law (lic.iur.). He was a scientific officer at the institute for finance and fiscal law of the University of St. Gallen and the assistant of Prof. Dr. Klaus Vallender.
As longtime CEO, he established the SGMI Institute of Management St. Gallen as one of the most renowned, international business schools in the German-speaking countries. Mr. Guntern is vice president of the St. Gallen Group and the Research Group St. Gallen as well as co-founder of numerous start-ups. As entrepreneurial pragmatist, he sits on the board of directors and the supervisory board of various companies.
He is one of the most renowned specialists in corporate and strategic management, having held lectures and seminars at corporate universities and conferences for more than 20 years. Furthermore, he is a member of administrative and supervisory boards of various companies.
He advises top and executive managers working for renowned domestic and foreign companies, corporations as well as successful niche players and start-ups worldwide. Through his numerous consulting projects, he gained relevant experiences in the following areas: