How can I get better at strategic thinking? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Matthew Sweet, writer and coach, phronetic.co.uk, on Quora:

I have an evil plan.

But it wouldn't be an evil plan unless I concealed it. Evil plans do not come to fruition when they are exposed to the public.

My evil plan is my grand strategy. It's my end game. My big ambition. And it's just for me.

It's what really matters. Whether I have a bad day, or lose my job, or go broke doesn't really matter. Sure, those situations will suck, but they don't matter. They can't distract me from the mission I have. They just move me a little nearer or a little further from where I want to end up.

B.H. Liddell Hart talks about this in Strategy. He describes grand strategy as what you want to happen after you win the war. Grand strategy is the highest level of vision.

Imagine a pyramid.

At the bottom sits tactics. Tactics are what you utilise to win the battle. They are concerned with troop movement, information gathering and reactions to local events. Tactical responsibility is usually entrusted to commanders who are on that particular front. Within that sphere, they are given control.

On the second level sits strategy. A strategy takes place over months and years. It's concerned with large objectives and events that have a significant impact on your or your opposition. It's why you want to win the battle and the effect on the overall campaign you are aiming for. If you do not notify local commanders of your strategy, they cannot use their freedom of movement to act in accordance with it.

At the top is grand strategy. This is the ultimate goal.

What's the objective of a war? Not just fighting for fighting's sake. Most wars are fought in the name of peace. But not just any peace. They are fought for a peace that is favourable to your side.

Winning battles is about tactics. Winning the war is strategy. Attaining peace is grand strategy.

At each level of the pyramid, a different action is required.

You must trust your local commanders with independence and tactical responsibility. You must share your strategic objectives and ensure everyone's actions move you towards their attainment. And you must conceal your grand strategy from all but a select few.

Tactical aims - trust

Strategic objectives - share

Grand strategy - conceal

Why conceal? I'll allow Robert Greene to explain. His third law of power is "Conceal your Intentions." Here's the description:

"Keep people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions. If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense. Guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelop them in enough smoke, and by the time they realise your intentions, it will be too late.

Let's take an example of someone who wants to use a blog to build his consultancy practice.

His grand strategy is to gain clients for his practice and make money. To do that, he must first make them aware that he exists, and secondly make them want to work with him.

His tactical aim is to get his writing in front of potential clients.

He's a consultant, not a marketer, so he works with another company. He explains what he wants; "I want my writing to reach the people who will most benefit from it." Then he lets them get to work. They check in regularly but all he cares about is that they build his audience.

His strategic objective is to provide value to potential clients. He must produce writing about common problems specific to his niche and demonstrate how to solve them. He's got to write engaging and useful articles.

If he's added value with his writing, and the marketers he's hired have done their work, some of his new audience may reach out to him. Or they might sign up to an email newsletter. If they do that, then he has a chance at turning strangers into customers. And customers into profit.

When it comes to managing a project or undertaking a campaign, there are three things to remember:

Trust your team with tactical responsibility. Align everyone behind your strategic objectives. And keep your grand strategy to yourself.

These are the rules of the strategy pyramid.

Matthew Sweet is a writer and coach. He writes daily about mastery, strategy and practical philosophy at phronetic.co.uk. He currently lives in Somerset, UK.

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