The Difference Between Operations and Strategy

The Difference Between Operations and Strategy

Managers today need to know there’s a difference between operations and strategy. Both aspects of the business work parallel to each other, boosting performance and creating a competitive edge.

Think of operations and strategy like two separate but essential engines on a boat. Both engines run efficiently and independently to ensure a smooth and fast journey. Running on one engine can lead you in a direction that will backfire and take you away from your objectives.

Likewise, focusing on only operations and ignoring strategy will put your company at risk in the long-term. And conversely, giving all your attention to strategy over operations is dangerous as you lose insight into your operational capacity on innovations, processes and market needs, creating a strategic plan lacking any real potential.

The operations engine

Because more people in an organization are involved in the operational side of the business in their day-to-day activities, they have more insight on what works on the ground. Through operations, a business is able to create value that meets business objectives and drives sales.

A lot of energy and resources go into supporting the operational engine of the business. That matters a lot. Because if operations is not able to reach its goals, the strategy will fall through.

The strategy engine

Strategy changes the way operations run to make the organization more competitive and strategic in the long-run. Its intent is to help the business discover a new source of competitive advantage.

To achieve long-term success that is sustainable and competitive at the same time, strategy defines goals and objectives that focus on the big picture. It creates new solutions and concepts that the business can offer, as well as, identifies new markets and customers to tap into.


Just like in the boat example, the strategy engine needs to work in tandem with the operations engine. Together they can shape the organization to achieve success in both the long and short-term.

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