The Lost Art of Strategy

Scott: Posted on Thursday, October 04, 2012 2:53 PM

Who remembers the game Stratego?  Fun little board game that was introduced in the 1980s by Parker Brothers.  Basically it’s capture the flag using various game pieces.  In the game, players arrange their 40 red or blue pieces in a 4×10 configuration at either end of the board. Such pre-play distinguishes the fundamental strategy of particular players, and influences the outcome of the game.

Stratego, which is a child’s game, is won or lost before the game really even starts on the board and the same is true of business.  You probably have goals (man, let’s hope) but do you really have a strategy for achieving them?  This aspect differentiates my firm’s approach from 95 percent of my competitors.  When I meet with a client, I talk business strategy first and align it to your company’s business goals.  Sounds simple, but you would be amazed how infrequently it happens.

But I notice that good old-fashioned strategy and planning seems to be missing in a lot of business activities today.  Why? Is it because we’re too busy executing things to really think about them?  Is it the by-the-second hyper-news cycle we live in today?  Do we just throw everything against the wall to see what sticks (eww) because that’s what we did last year and it seemed to work ok?

Whatever the reason, it’s bad and businesses need to get back on the strategy train soon.  How do you develop a strategic (not tactical) mindset?  I always think about war.  Actually, war predates business and most business terms, sayings and practices come from war.  Let me show you.

1.  Goal (What do we want?)– Win the War

2.  Objective (What needs to happen to get what we want?) —  Win The Battle of Hill A and City B by this winter

3.  Strategy  (More specifically, how are we going to do it)  — Take Hill A, City B allowing us to cut off supply routes and surround the enemy, starving them to death and then we swoop in and take them out.

4.  Tactics  (Really specifically, what are we going to use to do this?) — Squad A will take Hill A,   Squad B will work on City B with help from Squad C, etc.

Things are clear in war.  Your goals are to survive and take out the other person’s forces. Period.  Business goals can be a littler fuzzier, but they can still be very strategic, focused and measurable.

In business, just like in Stratego, the goal is clear, but there are a million ways to arrange your pieces to get there.  And the arranging BEFORE the game begins is how you win the game.  THAT’s strategy.

I’d love to help your company with your business strategy and help you arrange your pieces in the right way in order win your battles out there.  Contact us today and let’s capture that flag!