Is war a good metaphor for business?

I think so.

Unless you are in the tinyiest of markets, there are businesses, organizations, and people competing for the attention and beliefs of your customers. You will have allies and enemies and periods of active and behind-the-scenes aggression. You can set out to not fight, but if someone brings a fight to you… you’d better respond strategically.

It is naive to think, as I’ve seen some “experts” promote, that if you just think good thoughts and kiss up to your competition, that you’ll all just “get along.” Just like companies that train their negotiators to take advantage of the “win-win” philosophy of negotiating, there are sharks ready to take advantage of naivity in all aspects of business.

P.S. Back to the office again, and the blog will shift back to the normal frequency.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Art Of War December 2, 2010 at 10:06 am

I think there’s definitely some correlation, but when you look at Sun tzu’s art of war, as well as other bingfa’s – the picture that you come up with is that the highest level strategy is syndication – or working together, and I think that’s definitely the case in business, as well!

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2 Anonymous August 30, 2005 at 4:08 pm

The wars in business may be bloodless but it’s no less fierce than what is being fought on today’s battlefield.  Our troops our fighting an Asymmetric War – Asymmetric warfare includes “threats outside the range of conventional warfare and difficult to respond to in kind (e.g., a suicide bomber)”.  The business world is just as unpredictable and difficult because of globalization, advancing technology, easier access to credit etc… New competitors enter the market every day fighting for your customer.  It does not matter whether you are trying to expand your company or protect your customer base, like our military counter parts, we must realize “we in business are at war” and better have a strategy!

Randy Zales (former Captain, USA)
President
Anthony Robbins & Associates
http://www.AnthonyRobbinsDC.com
——-

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3 Anonymous August 30, 2005 at 9:08 pm

The wars in business may be bloodless but it’s no less fierce than what is being fought on today’s battlefield.  Our troops our fighting an Asymmetric War – Asymmetric warfare includes “threats outside the range of conventional warfare and difficult to respond to in kind (e.g., a suicide bomber)”.  The business world is just as unpredictable and difficult because of globalization, advancing technology, easier access to credit etc… New competitors enter the market every day fighting for your customer.  It does not matter whether you are trying to expand your company or protect your customer base, like our military counter parts, we must realize “we in business are at war” and better have a strategy!
Randy Zales (former Captain, USA)
President
Anthony Robbins & Associates
http://www.AnthonyRobbinsDC.com——-

Reply

4 Anonymous August 23, 2005 at 3:08 pm

Anyone who thinks that war aptly correlates to businss has not participated in a war.  By comparison, business is just a game. 
Michael D. Woods, CPA
Major, USMC retired

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5 Anonymous August 23, 2005 at 8:08 pm

Anyone who thinks that war aptly correlates to businss has not participated in a war.  By comparison, business is just a game. 
Michael D. Woods, CPA
Major, USMC retired

Reply

6 Anonymous July 2, 2004 at 1:07 am

Totally agree, business is a contest.  You always have to think about the competitor. 
Read Sun Tzu and you find so much of what he says of value.  To us it is like a huge
competition on the field.  Good thing to know your play and how to run it!

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7 Anonymous July 2, 2004 at 6:07 am

Totally agree, business is a contest.  You always have to think about the competitor. 
Read Sun Tzu and you find so much of what he says of value.  To us it is like a huge
competition on the field.  Good thing to know your play and how to run it!

Reply

8 Anonymous June 30, 2004 at 8:06 pm

What goes on in an MBA class has little to do with the realities of entrepreneurship. The equivelent of alliances, standards bodies, and negotiation are all present in war. Furthermore, war is not about beating the crap out of anyone. It’s about accomplishing a strategic objective, and sometimes beating the crap out of the other guy is a part of it. It is not perfect. Yet, I’ve yet to find a metaphor for business nearly as complete.

As for cliches, metaphor is one of the best learning tools available to us. And translating from one context to another is a master skill of entrepreneurship. I’m open to more or better, though.

Thanks for the comment.

Michael

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9 Anonymous July 1, 2004 at 1:06 am

What goes on in an MBA class has little to do with the realities of entrepreneurship. The equivelent of alliances, standards bodies, and negotiation are all present in war. Furthermore, war is not about beating the crap out of anyone. It’s about accomplishing a strategic objective, and sometimes beating the crap out of the other guy is a part of it. It is not perfect. Yet, I’ve yet to find a metaphor for business nearly as complete.
As for cliches, metaphor is one of the best learning tools available to us. And translating from one context to another is a master skill of entrepreneurship. I’m open to more or better, though.
Thanks for the comment.
Michael

Reply

10 Anonymous June 30, 2004 at 5:06 pm

Funny, this topic was brought up by a female student in an MBA class I was taking. She said she was getting sick of all these macho war and sports analogies to modern business. Not all business is about beating the crap outta the other guy. What of alliances, standards bodies, and (as you mentioned) negotiation? Even Henry V married France in the end.

Not to say business isn’t feral – it is – but maybe we need less cliches.

Reply

11 Anonymous June 30, 2004 at 10:06 pm

Funny, this topic was brought up by a female student in an MBA class I was taking. She said she was getting sick of all these macho war and sports analogies to modern business. Not all business is about beating the crap outta the other guy. What of alliances, standards bodies, and (as you mentioned) negotiation? Even Henry V married France in the end.
Not to say business isn’t feral – it is – but maybe we need less cliches.

Reply

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