donderdag 20 oktober 2011

Strategic decision making - what can managers learn from war-strategists?

Several authors discuss the usefulness of strategy & tactics as it is applied in war, for using it in business. They talk about the similarities between the battlefield and business. To my opinion there are more differences than similarities between a real battlefield and business. Nevertheless, much can be learned from the approaches to strategy used in war.

Especially nowadays the informative value of insights about strategic decision making in war for managers can be very high, because most markets are continuously and rapidly changing. Decisions have to be taken on short terms with limited information while the impact of the decisions are high and critical. Waiting for actions of competitors is not an option, you will lose the initiative and will be behind on your competitors. Losing initiative will in some markets lead to losing a battle, or even worse: lose the war.
The highly competitive and rapidly changing environment looks to a certain extent like situations which we see in war. War strategists (officers) have to make decision under great time-pressure with limited information (of which the reliability can be questioned), while the impact is high.
Let there be no misunderstanding; the impact of decisions in war are much higher as these are in business. No doubts here, as wartime decisions are decisions concerning the lives of human beings. Nevertheless, the way of thinking which officers have when making strategic decision, can be very useful for managers in business, because sometimes business can look like a battlefield. Approaching the business like a battlefield can be useful in these rapidly changing and highly competitive world.

Some examples of authors which make the parallel between strategy in war and strategy in business are:

Jan Jaap Brouwer – Schaduwen over de woestijn (Dutch book)
Robert Ogilvie – Krijgen is een kunst (Dutch book)
Sun-Tzu and Gary Gagliardi - The Art of War for the Management Warrior: Sun Tzu's Strategy for Managers
More will follow…

Much of these books are based on books/studies of classic war-strategists (which are very interesting and inspiring) like:

Machiavelli – the prince
Carl von Clausewitz – On War
Sun Tzu – The art of war

But there are also many examples of (battles of) more recent wars (WW I, WWII, Vietnam).

The plan is to post in the near future some theory accompanied by examples (based on books or written by myself) about strategic topics in war related to strategic supply chain management, procurement and strategy in business. This serie of articles is called: The parallel between warfare and business

New posts will be announced on my twitter account:

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