Business strategy has been traditionally compared to a game of chess. Being that I love the game and grew up playing matches with my father throughout my childhood, I thought that chess was a great analogy for business strategy. You see, my father and I would play games of chess that could last months at a time. We would play for a bit each night as time permitted, and I will never forget how I would often times get very frustrated because he would take much time to deliberate his next move (we did not play speed chess). Of course, he typically worked me under the table simply because he was thinking 10-15 moves ahead of me. This one to one fashion of strategy has been the typical analogy for how to make business decisions. Make a move, gather feedback and adjust.
The New Game of Chess
Now, with the increase in competition, information and overall velocity of change; the analogy of one-for-one is obsolete. Instead, the winner is the one who is able to make the most rapid decisions with and without feedback from the ramifications of their own moves and their opponents’ moves. Those who wait will be destroyed. Literally. Leaders who are not constantly making active decisions are destined to be considered anachronistic and fossilized in a state of paralytic dysfunction . Further, those who are able to move multiple pieces at once with methodical precision will be the ones to prosper in the rapidly changing business climate.
How to Play the New Game
Business leaders must learn to adjust with the rapidly changing business climate if they expect a chance at survival. This means leaders must decentralize control to allow their equipped employees to make the multiple moves required to gain ground without hindrance from bureaucracy and the myopic old world one-for-one thought processes. In other words, if you want more control you need a bigger fence. The landscape is changing dramatically and every second that is experienced means the rules have changed 10 fold and each employee is more equipped with timely information to speed along the business decision making processes. Here are a few suggestions on how to empower your organization to make multiple moves simultaneously:
- Understand the technology available: There are plentiful amounts of technology that can be leveraged to propel your company to the next level; however, the technology in and of itself is of no value without a basal understanding of how a proposed piece of technology brings value to the bottom line. In sum, be cognizant of technology that turns your employees into force multipliers and leverage the technology to its maximal potential.
- Work hard: The harder you work the the luckier you get. Work hard to understand the internal and external factors that are impacting your success. Find the constraints and surgically decompose them to their most basic form and massage them until they release increased value.
- Take risk: The rapidity of the business world means there is increased risk not taking on more risk. While the aforementioned statement is contradictory; it simply means that you must strive to continue creating value, you must leverage the information available at your fingertips and seize opportunities as they arise.
- Move: If your are not moving, you are getting passed up. Stagnation is death and businesses no longer have the luxury of brand loyalty. The rapid commodity nature of products and race to the bottom means that without constant innovation and improvement, businesses will be left with little to offer to their customers.
The rules have changed. Gone are the days of one-to-one movements. Instead, it’s the simultaneous movements without regard to your opponents timing and preferences that will allow you to survive the rapidly changing business environment. Move all of your pieces at once to find the orientation that achieves your objectives.
What is your strategy to navigate the rapidly changing business environment?