Events seldom proceed exactly as planned. Disruptions occur. Examples? The Covid-19 Pandemic, the 'People' vs. the 'Elites', China's "shashoujian" weapons and decoupling from Western countries. With little effort, the belligerent can produce great effects. Strategies require long term thinking. Tactics are meant to produce immediate results on the road to a goal. The internet? It's become a vehicle for dispensing disinformation and propaganda, fake news meant to influence future events.
Sun Tzu, a Chinese General and military strategist from the 5th Century BC, suggested the best result is achieved when your opponent is put in a position of simply not offering resistance. China, Iran, and Russia believe that strategic cleverness will allow a decisive victory with little or no cost. In their minds, the Western concept of fair play is absent. The use of secret, deceptive, and unorthodox methods is acceptable.
Sun Tzu was correct when he stated "All warfare is based on deception." He famously wrote, "To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill." Sixteen centuries later, Genghis Khan led his Mongol hordes halfway around the globe and nearly conquered the known world. No army could match the speed of his entirely horse mounted forces, nor match his use of communications. Rommel (the Desert Fox) advocated fast moving decentralized force, deeply penetrating the enemy's rear area to disrupt balance and prevent use of reserve forces.
1. Understand Vulnerabilities: In the Story of Achilles, Thetis' meant her son Achilles to become immortal by dipping him in the sacred waters of the river Styx. She did not realize that his heel (by which she held him) was not touched by the waters, thus leaving that spot vulnerable. Where are your weak spots? One of the benefits of self identification of weaknesses is discovering there are experts that are really great at something you're not! Self examination leads to understanding and taking appropriate steps to remedy these short comings. Encourage top down and bottom up thinking; use intuition, experience and introspection. Then take action. him.
2. Boldness: Boldness seeks a breakthrough rather than incremental results. It requires weighing risk reward trade-offs. If the potential benefits are sufficiently high and you can 'cover' your downside risk, act (even in the face of limited information). Warren Buffet sticks to his principled investing approach, investing only in companies he understands, those that generate positive cash flow, enjoy strong brand recognition and command respect from consumers and the general public. He has clear measures of success but always asks, 'what's the downside?' Then he acts.
3. Surprise: Surprise is achieved through stealth, ambiguity and deception. Trump has the seventh President's portrait (Andrew Jackson) now hanging in the Oval Office. Jackson was a former military officer and U.S. senator who was known for his fiery temper and bombastic rhetoric. "Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy." Stealth denies the opposition knowledge of impending action. It means acting in such a way that the opposition does not know what to expect. It involves sending signals that confuse. Deception convinces the opposition you are going to do something other than what you actually intend. Forcing your competition to respond to numerous threats, all plausible, but only some real, causes resources to be spread thinly. It creates opportunities.
4. Focus: Opportunities created by surprise allow you to focus your resources at a particular time and place. It provides advantage when and where it matters most. Napoleon Bonaparte correctly observed, "The essence of strategy is to always have more force at a crucial point than the opposition." The corollary? Avoid the strengths of your competitors. Focus where they are not, on a 'blue ocean.' Competing in overcrowded industries is difficult. The real opportunity lies in uncontested market spaces.
5. Decentralize Decision Making: Those closest to the action should have the latitude needed to take advantage of on-the-spot information unavailable to their superiors. The ability to exercise initiative without having to wait for approval. General George Patton directed: "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." Reaping the full rewards of delegation creates the ability to exploit opportunities as they arise. You must be willing to trust the capabilities of your subordinates, relinquish some degree of control, and resist the temptation to intervene when execution is not as precise as you would like.
6. Speed: Speed requires efficient identification of opportunities and a sense of urgency in making decisions. Acting faster than your opponent forces them into a constant state of reaction. Abraham Lincoln said: "Things may come to those who wait, but only things left by hose who hustle." Seizing the initiative allows you to dictate the time, place, and nature of competitive encounters. If an opponent is struggling to cope with the situation at hand and you are already targeting an entirely new situation, effective response becomes increasingly difficult.
7. Resources: Integrating all your resources and capabilities increases their collective effectiveness. Vince Lombardi correctly observed "The challenge for every organization is to build a feeling of oneness, of dependence on one another. The question is usually not how well each person works, but how well they work together. Benefits are maximized by understanding and applying tactics simultaneously. They are complementary and mutually reinforcing.
The backbone of results? Strategies, tactics, teamwork. Opportunities are fleeting. Set an example. Accept responsibility and take action.
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Paul Lechner Esq., CPA
The Lechner Group, Ltd.
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The Lechner Group, Ltd. is a public accounting and business consulting firm focused on business counsel, transactional diligence, and tax advisory services. We add value to your business strategies by providing a combination of financial, audit, and tax expertise. Combined with legal services (which are provided separately by the Lechner Law Office, P.C.) we offer privately held business owners an attractive package of comprehensive services.
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