One of the most effective infantry tactics is infiltration. For instance, during the First World War, the Germans and the Western allies learned the importance of sending in small groups of fighters to scout out enemy positions ahead of a battle, or simply to conduct short, sharp raids. Infiltration could be deadly in both material and psychological terms, as it caused a steady drip drip of casualties while also undermining the morale of those being infiltrated. This continued throughout the Second World War, Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan.

Companies often fail to appreciate the indidious undermining of their once-solid positions by a steady stream of competitors and their slightly “improved” or differentiated products. Competition usually comes as infiltration, slowly but inexorably working its way into the market. One day, the leadership of a once-dominant company wakes up to find itself surrounded by competitive offerings and it all happened so slowly that they can’t pinpoint the specific time it happened. But they are nonetheless surrounded and in danger. This is what has happened to Blackberry, Microsoft, and others.

Food for Thought
Are you susceptible to infiltration by competitors and non-business stakeholders who can undermine your strong positions? Can you use infiltration against your competitors?

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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