I attended the graduation of the first cohort of WA Leaders the other night, and former military man and successful business owner Johnathan Huston (Croissant Express, Tint-a-Car) presented on the 10 most important principals of war.
He claimed that these 10 principles were the same for business, and in order of importance are…
1. What is the purpose?
An organisation must have a clear singularity of purpose. Keep it simple. Don’t spend lots of time with plans, they’re not read. Make the purpose clear to everyone. Allow people to make the decisions according to the purpose. People can make mistakes. As long as they were trying to get the purpose, celebrate!
2. Maintenance of morale
Make sure everyone is focussed on the job. This is far more important than having the best materials or equipment.
3. Offensive action
You cannot sit back and be defensive. Keep moving forward.
4. Concentration of effect
Make a big impact in a targeted manner. Don’t spread your marketing spend all over the year, have some strong attacking moments at key times of the year.
5. Economy of effort
There’s never enough resources, so efficiency and effectiveness is key. Look how a few people hi-jacking planes made a huge impact on 9/11. The US ended up spending trillions of dollars over the next decade, and allowed the enemy to fight them on their own field, which was the aim.
6. Maintain momentum
Keep it up. Make sure you are pushing forward with sustainable, repeatable, cash flow positive projects.
7. Security and surprise
Ensure you have IP protection. Make your opponent box at shadows.
8. Flexibility and cooperation
Seek alliances and partnerships for mutual benefit.
Have great systems and processes. Make sure you can scale. Don’t be overly dependent on too few people. Have redundancy built in.
10. Maintain and reconstitute a reserve
Keep an ace in your pocket. Have a secure line of credit that you don’t use. So you can pounce when you need to. Be agile.
Looking at these, I probably have to agree. The purpose is the single most important factor. As Simon Sinek argues, find your ‘Why’. People buy your why. Everyone in the business has to know what the clear purpose is, and it should not have to be written on the wall to remind people. It should be built in.
Certainly, motivation of staff, or rather, selected switched on self-motivated people, who will keep pushing and not give up, is also key, so this slides in at number 2, after the clear purpose.
I don’t think the 10 are necessarily always correct, nor in the right order definitively, depending on the type of business and industry. Business is not about conflict, it’s more about competition, and also cooperation. There are clear differences.
Military action is usually judged as either a win or a loss, with the ultimate goal being a win with the least effort (or casualties/cost). Judging a success, or a win, is sometimes harder in business. For some businesses, being around as an organisation may be reason to cheer, but in the military being around next year is not really the goal (because, if that was the case, don’t go to war at all).
The 10 do serve up some interesting points however, so are worthy of a look.