Is business like war?


Well according to Lt. Col Ivan Yardley it is and after attending one of his breakfast briefings this morning I believe he is probably right.

Today he was talking about decision making in the military as compared to  the business world. It was an hour well spent as far as I’m concerned but one thing Ivan said really resonated with me.

“When the battle starts the plan becomes irrelevant” (a paraphrase of a famous Helmuth von Moltke quotation). What he meant was that in a combat situation there is very little time for a command and control type of management style. People have to make decisions and act independently and soldiers are trained to do this. Waiting for orders can get you killed.

Is business like this? Well apart from the lack of blood and gore (unless you’re working on the stock exchange of course) I think it is. Certainly decisions have to be made a lot quicker these days and there are so many things that can all happen at once making the decision making process hard.

Unlike the military, however, corporate Britain has too much command and control, not enough empowerment and a surplus of “that’s not my job matey”.

So what is true empowerment? In Flair we put it down to these three conditions: –

  1. Authority – can you make a decision on your own within set boundaries?
  2. Mistakes – can you make legitimate mistakes without fear of blame or reprisal?
  3. Scrutiny – can you operate without undue, unscheduled and unwanted interference by your boss?

I wonder how empowered you are based on the above and, perhaps more importantly, how empowered are your team members? Lack of empowerment means you become an unscalable leader because you have to be involved with too many of your teams day to day operations.

Can you imagine what would happen in a combat situation if the lieutenant had to be involved in most of the imperative decisions a regular soldier needed to make?

I will blog another couple of points that Ivan made over the coming days but in the meantime if you want to learn more about him then check out his website http://www.zulucreative.co.uk.

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Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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One comment on “Is business like war?
  1. tim bates says:

    Mike, 80% will do for me!

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Mike Ames

Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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