There’s a principle of defence that distinguishes between vital ground and key terrain. In a nutshell, vital ground is the position or ground that you must defend to the last man, and if you fail in that task, then the whole defensive line will fall apart. Key terrain includes all those areas and positions that allow you to slow down or channel an attacker or challenger and that make the defence of vital ground that much stronger. If you lose control of key terrain, then that jeopardizes your hold on vital ground.

Whether it’s with our followers, employers, clients, suppliers, or anyone else for that matter, it’s important to distinguish what is vital ground from what is key terrain. In some cases, you can give up key terrain by trading space for time, but it’s easy to confuse ego or a false sense of superiority for vital ground, when it’s just key terrain, or a way to put some distance between ourselves and others. If we confuse the two, we can get caught up in fighting battles we can’t win or using up all our ammunition in pyrrhic victories.

Richard Martin is a Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

The best way to defeat an entrenched enemy is to go around him, exposing weaknesses and gaps in the defence, and exploiting them to go beyond his defences in order to threaten his whole position.

  • Are there customers, segments, or entire markets that are currently inadequately served or ignored by established competitors?
  • Are there existing products and services that could be modified to better meet these needs?
  • Are there components or technologies that could be re-combined or suitably modified to meet these needs?
  • Could you effectively outflank and bypass the competition by exploiting these under-served or ignored needs?
  • What competencies and resources can you bring to bear to exploit these opportunities?
  • What financial, human, technical, marketing, and sales capabilities could you develop or acquire to bypass the competition?
  • Can you keep the risks within acceptable bounds? What means could you use to do so?

Richard Martin is a Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

We’ve all heard about the well-known generations X or Y, or about the children of the millennium, the so-called ‘Millennials.’ Young people, let’s say for sake of argument, workers under 35 years of age, supposedly are very different than us baby-boomers. Nevertheless, my experience and observations tell me there’s no truth to this affirmation. Young people seek the very same things that older people seek.

It’s been close to ten years that I’ve been working as a management consultant, coach, trainer, and public speaker. I continually hear talk about how more demanding young people are than we older folks were when we were young. Young people insist upon their holidays. They don’t like working weekends or evenings or graveyard shifts. They’re looking for challenges, responsibilities, and intellectual stimulus. They do want to work, but not at the price of their family or personal lives. They want to work in businesses or other organizations that are socially, politically, and ecologically responsible.

What strikes me the most is that young people have the chance of living everyday what their older siblings struggled to get, that is, balance between the commercial and social goals of their work organizations on the one hand, and their family and personal lives on the other hand. In short, they want the very same things that previous generations wanted, but without the social and political struggles, and without facing the same difficulties and obstacles that older workers faced.

Workers aged 45-65 slowly worked their way up through the ranks. Those who entered the workforce between 1975 and 1985 when unemployment was high had to content themselves with dry bread and water at a time when inflation was rampant and mortgage rates approached 20 percent. Furthermore, in those days, one didn’t question authority in terms of respect and conformity to rules. When I was in elementary school, no one asked me if I wanted to be an altar boy or receive the Catholic sacraments. Adults just assumed that you would follow orders or suffer the consequences. It is therefore a little frustrating for older people to see younger workers face an embarrassment of riches when it comes to choosing employment or imposing their own values, or at least to take them into account in their work and career.

Unemployment in some sectors and regions remains high, especially for people without the professional qualifications needed today. For those with qualifications, however, there are lots of opportunities. There are even some sectors where there is a current or coming shortage of labour. The mayor of Quebec City shouts from the rooftops that there is a serious shortage of candidates for many jobs. Jobs go begging in traditional trades such as plumbing, electricity, and others. Trucking firms advertise on radio, as do professional training establishments.

Under such circumstances, it is hardly surprising that a young worker who never has had job security nor had a family to feed, a mortgage, or a pension fund might be mobile and demanding. If a job does not suit him or her for whatever reason, it’s easy to look elsewhere. Lack of satisfaction with a job can have many sources, among them, working conditions and pay. One thing I often hear from young people is that the work is insufficiently satisfying, that the boss doesn’t know how to plan and lead, that employment conditions do not live up to promises. I’m a father of three young women, who often recount to me the incompetence of managers and supervisors. I hear the same things from my undergrad students in my university teaching.

In summary, work complaints, whether from young, old, or middle-aged, reveal the same malaise and feelings. I observe essentially a lack of leadership, planning, and communication. As a military officer, I learned that the art of commanding, above all, comes from the professional and leadership capacities of the leader. To this effect, the ten principles of military leadership are also applicable to business and organizational management. Read the following principles. They apply equally to young or to not-so-young.

  1. Develop professional competence.
  2. Know how to assess one’s strengths and weaknesses, and seek to improve oneself.
  3. Seek and accept responsibilities.
  4. Provide a good example to others, especially your employees.
  5. Ensure yourself that your employees understand your intentions, and direct them in the execution of your mandate.
  6. Know your employees, and promote their welfare.
  7. Develop the leadership potential of each of your supervisors and employees.
  8. Take the right decisions at the right times.
  9. Build the cohesion and effectiveness of your team, and use each employee to the maximum of his or her capacities.
  10. Keep employees aware of mission, changes of situation, and overall portrait of the organization.

Richard Martin is a Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© Alcera Consulting Inc. 2015. We encourage the sharing of this information and forwarding of this email with attribution. All other rights reserved.

In military strategy and tactics, a force multiplier is anything that creates synergy between different weapons systems or units. For instance, tanks, infantry, artillery, and engineers are moderately effective if employed alone. But when unified into a combined arms team they become much more powerful. Each is a force multiplier for the others.

You can apply the same logic in business, for instance a sales situation. If you go in cold to a prospect, your chances of succeeding are pretty slim. But if you go in with a peer-to-peer referral, you’ve just upped your chances of making an inroad. Add in informative literature, access to video, web training, testimonials for satisfied clients, purchase financing, and ongoing owner support, and you’ve created a powerful combination that will lift your chances of succeeding to their maximum level.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is a Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

  • How vulnerable is your supply chain to disruption and dislocation? Do you have a limited number of suppliers, or multiple ones, with potential alternatives for emergencies?
  • How long could your company or organization withstand disruption and dislocation to your supply chain or other logistical risks?
  • Do you have contingency plans and alternate solutions in place to deal with such conditions?
  • What preventive and mitigation measures do you have in place?
  • How quickly and efficiently can you respond to supply shocks and threats to lines of communication?

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is a Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

  • What are your expansion or sustainment plans? Do you have sufficient financial, production, logistical, and operational capability to exploit opportunities? How can you free up such resources? Have you empowered your managers to seek out and exploit these opportunities? Have you given them the tools and resources to do so?
  • Have you developed contingency plans and capabilities to press an initial advantage, whether offensively or defensively? Do you have resources and capabilities on standby, or can you reallocate them from underperforming areas of the company? Are your people empowered to press your advantages so they can turn initial incursions into breakthroughs? Do they have the resources to do so?
  • Do you have the staying power to survive and thrive beyond the initial push into a new product-market segment? Can you sustain the advance and turn tactical and operational victories into strategic ones?

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is a Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Last week Target announced that it was shutting down completely its Canadian operation, all 133 stores, and taking a $5.4 billion writedown. What was originally supposed to be the beginning of a glorious international expansion has turned into a lesson in humility and hubris. There was a lot of talk of how they had poor merchandising, high prices, lack of stock, etc etc. This is all true, but the main cause of this was arrogance. They appeared to think they could launch across Canada en masse without learning about the market(s), building a solid supplier network and logistics, and experimenting to adapt to the Canadian marketplace and competitive dynamic.

A military force that’s fixing to cross a major obstacle into new territory always starts with a bridgehead. The aim is to secure a foothold that can be defended and to build up strength and supplies of fuel and ammunition. Only when you’ve done so successfully do you extend the beachhead by probing and seeking gaps in the enemy defenses. You can then attempt a breakout. We can’t be sure Target would have been ultimately successful, but if they had started with a few stores in various parts of the country, experimented, generated experience and lessons learned, and only then tried to expand in phases, they would probably have done a lot better and would still be expanding instead of retreating humbly back to their home base in the US.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is a Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.