Brilliant Manoeuvre
The first and most important principle of war, and the only sure road to victory, is offense. Defense should only be used as a temporary measure while doing everything possible to (re)gain the initiative.

Too many companies (and even entire business sectors) have lost their relevance by assuming that their existing defensive posture would protect them from competition. Newspapers have been rendered almost irrelevant by web based media. The music industry was completely bypassed, first by Napster and other illegal copying methods, and then legally by iTunes. Television networks are struggling against the same reality, trying desperately to protect their control over programming, while teenagers barely watch TV anymore, preferring to watch their favourite shows on the web. Research in Motion (now Blackberry) thought its position in secure mobile communications made it invulnerable. When the iPhone came out, one of RIM’s co-CEOs pronounced it insignificant (or words to that effect). On the other hand, companies such as IBM, Bombardier, and Disney have continually reinvented themselves, or redefined their purpose in order to seek out and/or create new market positions. This keeps them ahead of competitors, and in some cases makes the competitors irrelevant.

Offensive business strategy succeeds best when companies make small, probing advances, experimenting with new products, services, processes, and business models. Once they see a successful incursion, they pour resources ‘into the breach’ in the hope of turning it into a breakthrough.

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

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