My interest is in helping people achieve. My book Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life is based on the philosophy that to reach fulfillment and achievements in very practical ways every person must become highly skilled at overcoming a variety of obstacles, most of them in ourselves. The book teaches those skills and has been very well received.
Then people started asking me for ideas that would relate to the realities of business that they faced every day, particularly the business competitions that affected their livelihood. Now it is obvious that the most intense form of competition is warfare. So I set to work organizing my research and thoughts relating business and warfare. The result was my book Waging Business Warfare: Lessons from the Military Masters in Achieving Competitive Superiority.
Let me introduce you to it now.
The Name of this Game is Competition
Where there are profits to be made, as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow there will be competition. And at times the competition will be intense, and the fate of businesses and careers may depend on who at the end of the fray has a higher share of those profits.
You may say, “We are not obsessed with the competition, with competing.” But your competitors may have an-us-versus-them mentality and be obsessed with you. They do not have your best interests at heart, to put it mildly. The promise of profits makes what is now yours appealing to them.
So it is wise, as it is said in warfare, to be prepared for anything.
A Radio Station That Wanted to Win
I’d just finished being interviewed about Waging Business Warfare on a radio station when the station General Manager poked her head into the studio and invited me into her office.
“I love what you have to say,” she said. “If only we’d known this stuff a few years ago we’d be a lot better off than we are today.”
The station’s ratings and advertising revenues were in the middle of the pack. But the General Manager had high ambitions and hired me to apply the Principles of War—the basis of my book—to her operation by training her personnel and developing a strategic and tactical plan based on those principles that could be implemented quickly.
All the staff were involved in training, from the newest and least senior person to on-air jocks. (Who had a lot to contribute.) The training was based on the notion that people have an unlimited ability to learn new information, master new tasks, and adapt to new responsibilities.
It challenged staff, and they became deeply involved and responded with great enthusiasm. The training was given over a four-week period and a strategic/tactical plan of action was developed, distributed to everyone who had participated in training, and then was implemented immediately.
Business Failures: A Dismal Story
Six hundred thousand new companies will open in the United States this year, many on-line, and start competing with all the optimism in the world. Many businessmen and businesswomen will have been dreaming about starting their business for years. Ten per cent will succeed, but 9 out of 10 will have competitive difficulties and will fail, and those dreams will be shattered.
They will lose their business war because they aren’t prepared to compete, and someone else who is better prepared will win.
A Vocabulary You Already Have
It’s not hard for business people to see the connection between business and warfare. When business theorists looked for a model as they were starting the field of business strategy they studied warfare.
The language of warfare already permeates the business vocabulary. Where do businesses compete? On the “battle ground.” Companies “launch offensives.” On the advertising and marketing “fronts”, they take “preemptive moves,” “battle” for market share, and engage in price “wars.” Small companies justifiably call themselves “guerrillas” and sales reps everywhere are “the troops,” the “foot soldiers.” They work on “the firing line.” And where does the real action of any company take place? In the “trenches.” Companies “seize the offensive” and “flank” the competition.
Realizing that warfare is too important to be left to chance (there is no margin of error in warfare), the great practitioners of war–the master strategists, kings, and generals throughout history that populate the book–looked for hard and fast guidelines, blueprints for victory that could not fail but to lead to success.
They agreed on a small number of universal truths, now called the Principles of War. Those principles make the study of warfare not just a group of disorganized notions and random ideas, but a complete, supremely well thought-out and tested science, one that predates the study of business management and marketing by thousands of years.
Business as a form of warfare subject to the Principles of War is the core competitive approach of some of the most profitable and fastest-growing companies in the world. During the PC wars between Microsoft and Apple, and between iOS and Android in the smart phone wars, the Principles of War were and are being applied. That’s why winners—small companies or large– are victorious, though they might not realize that fact.
The Principles of Waging Business Warfare in Brief
- Good leadership is the first requisite of competitive superiority. An army of deer led by a lion is more to be feared than an army of lions led by a deer.
- Maintain your objective; adjust your plan. Winners focus on only one thing: the main objective. They don’t wander off on tangents. But no plan survives the first contact with the competition, so you must adjust the plan.
- Concentrate greater strength at the decisive point. The cause of most successes in business and warfare both can be summarized for brevity in just one word: “concentration.” Yet in business, concentration is the most often neglected principle.
- Take the offensive and maintain mobility. The side whose strategic and tactical ideas are superior will usually gain the upper hand and do so soon after the competition begins and at less cost than the other side. You cannot win unless at some point you take the offensive. Many businesses do not seem to know this.
- Follow the course of least resistance. Never get into a pissing contest with a porcupine.
- Achieve security. Know your competitors, know how their leaders think, know the desires of the consumers of today and tomorrow—and the day after.
- Make certain all personnel play their part. High productivity is an offensive weapon, and it is never equal on both sides. Like armies, businesses will go only as far as their personnel will take them. You want action-oriented “movers and firers” who always want to get into the action.
The Radio Station with the Will to Win
The radio station implemented the strategic and tactical plan we had developed and the personnel applied what training had taught them. The station quickly shot to number one in the market in not one, but all its demographics, and its advertising revenues rose accordingly.
In addition, as expected, staff morale sky-rocketed. Intense competitions are exciting for the people engaged in them, whether they are between American-Japanese-Korean-German-French-Swedish auto manufacturers or between Verizon and AT&T and between basic cable and Direct Broadcast Satellite TV or between beer and spirits breweries, between one restaurant and another restaurant, or aggressive competitors of any size in any line of business in any city or town in any country on earth.
© 2014 David J. Rogers
Order Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life eBook by David J. Rogers
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