Virtuous cycle

Bartlomiej Owczarek weblog

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Business strategy of warfare

Thanks to John Battelle I read this Economist article comparing Google to Napoleon, while its badly beaten opponents to Napoleon’s historical adversaries. The suggestion, drawing from Emperor’s story, but not very deeply, is for the small guys to get somehow (diverse views on how) together in order to gain more fighting chance.

Reading Sun Tzu once was so far my only adventure with “business as warfare” thinking, and I cannot recall any inspiration specifically from Napoleon, so I did a Google look-up.

The first to be found was Wikipedia’s article “Marketing warfare strategies”. Ironically, considering Nick Carr’s article on Wikipedia’s alleged drive to centralize web’s information through its strong positioning in Google search results. And quite significantly too, since the article was “good enough” for my brief interest in the topic.

A worthy note that warfare strategies imply zero-sum game, where what is one’s gain is someone else’s expense. This is a dangerous mindset to have, especially if one’s market is driven by innovation. If Google’s competitors, some of whom are already suspected of having serious organizational issues with creating innovation-friendly environment, were to merge and create even bigger, paralyzed, lumbering corporate giant, that would rather be closer to a suicide than a winning strategy maneuver.

Nevertheless, even if out of favor for a moment, I am sure military lessons will continue to inspire ranks of, after all still largely male, business leaders. Other than Napoleon and Sun Tzu, also Clausewitz, Mao Tse Tung and even Robin Hood are mentioned. But coming to the Napoleon himself:

Napoleon made four key innovations. They were 1) increase his army?s marching rate, 2) organize the army into self contained units, 3) live off the country, and 4) attack the opponent?s lines of supply. All four provide lessons for business strategists

I refer you to the article in case you are interested what kind of lessons.