If you’ve lost or given up the initiative, then you’re automatically in a defensive posture

Posted: February 10, 2014 in Powerful Ideas
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You’re on the defensive when you’ve lost or intentionally given up the initiative to your competitors or opponents. You know you have the initiative when you set the timing, rhythm, location and nature of the action.

You can give up the initiative willingly and go into a temporary or local defensive mode. This allows you to buy time to reorganize, rest, or reconstitute your resources. It also allows you to free up valuable resources to reassign them to higher priority areas. In practical terms for business, this means you can free up resources to be on the offensive strategically while maintaining a defensive posture in certain areas. How can you tell if you’re on the defensive?

  • You’re constantly surprised by events and by your opponents’ or competitors’ actions.
  • You’re constantly playing catch up, because your opponents or competitors are beating you to the punch: They introduce new products or services before you do. They open up a new market segment before you do. They introduce new processes and production techniques before you do.
  • Once you realize what’s happening, you’re slow to react and can’t turn your ship around quickly once you DO decide to act.
  • You have little insight into your competitors’ or opponents’ intentions.
  • You have little insight into your customers’, suppliers’, and distributors’ preferences and intentions.
  • You are constantly reacting to competitors’ and opponents’ actions instead of setting the agenda yourself and making them react.
  • More often than not, you’re fighting on ground (i.e., markets, on issues) NOT of your choosing.
  • More often than not, you have to compete or fight with your weaknesses instead of your strengths.
  • Morale and mood are low, as people realize that your company or organization doesn’t have the initiative.
  • Cohesion and coherence of action are difficult to maintain, as you’re constantly reacting rather than proactively managing resources and assigning them to your strengths and to reaching YOUR goals.

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.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

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