In most industries, 20% of companies – those with well-developed corporate strategies – generate 80% of earnings. So the author Brian Tracy outlines the business strategy and why it is so important. He defines its components, explains what strategy entails, and explains how businesses can construct complete strategies to attain their objectives. He also presents an intriguing account of how Alexander the Great’s superior use of strategy enabled his 50,000-man Macedonian army to beat the million-man Persian army in the 300s BC, albeit Tracy’s emphasis is on strategy rather than precise history. getAbstract recommends this compact yet solid textbook to corporate strategists, those whose businesses require strategic planning, and strategy students.
The World’s Greatest Strategist
Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) was the ruler of Macedon, a northern Greek country. Because of his strategic skills, he was named “the Great.” Macedonians controlled all of Greece when he became king at the age of 20.
When Alexander learnt that unfaithful plotters and rebels planned to kill him and free the Greek city-states from Macedonian rule, he reformed the Macedonian army, appointing trustworthy generals. Then he defeated the insurgent armies. Alexander was the uncontested ruler of Greece by the age of 21. He sought out to spread Greek civilization throughout the world by conquest. He allowed monarchs who did not challenge him to remain in power in exchange for paying an annual levy to Macedon. For the chance to capture booty, Alexander welcomed men from other countries to join his army.
Darius and the Persian Empire governed the whole Middle East, including India and modern-day Pakistan. Alexander attacked the Persian Empire, routing Darius’ 50,000-man army with his 22,000-man army. To battle the Macedonians at Gaugamela, Darius assembled a million-man army.
Alexander revealed his battle strategy to his generals the night before the battle. The Persian army was made up of more than 30 tribes with “differing languages, traditions, battle orders, religious rites, and military command systems.” Their only bond was their loyalty to Darius. These divisions would dissipate rapidly if Alexander murdered Darius or forced him to flee. Alexander intended to strike the heart of Darius’ army, drive through it, and assassinate the emperor.
Alexander the great invented the “oblique formation”. The Macedonian army was positioned “at an angle and to the right of the middle” of Darius’ army. Darius, perplexed, directed his army to shift to the right in order to counter Alexander’s strategy. Like every other army in history before them, the Persian soldiers and commanders, liked to move straight ahead. Alexander charged his cavalry into the middle of the enormous army, taking advantage of a break in the shifting Persian line. Darius mounted his horse and fled the battlefield, not expecting this assault on his command center. As word spread of his departure, individual units of his army dispersed. The Macedonian army marched among the fleeing, leaderless warriors and killed them all. 400,000 Persians were killed. The Macedonians lost 1,247 men.
“One management skill is always the most valuable, and that is the ability to develop a clear, workable strategic plan that gives you a competitive advantage in your marketplace.”Business Strategy by Brain Tracy
Alexander, then 23, rose to become the most powerful leader of the ancient world. The seven important strategic principles he utilised to defeat Darius are still valid and appropriate for strategists today, especially corporate planners. So organizations and armies who fail to apply even one of the following strategic principles may suffer devastating defeats.
The “Principles of Effective Strategy”
To succeed, put these seven principles to work:
“The principle of the objective” – Success requires a well-defined goal. You must know how you intend to accomplish it, and your personnel must understand what they are expected to perform. Alexander’s ambition was to become the world’s ruler. That meant conquering the Persians and removing Darius. So, Alexander conveyed his battle plan and tactics to his generals so that everyone knew what to do.
“The principle of the offensive” – “No great battles won on defence,” remarked Napoleon Bonaparte. Go on the offensive with “new products, new services, new procedures, and new methods of doing business” to flourish. Alexander realised that the only way to beat the Persians was to combat them personally. Do the same to your competition to beat them.
“The principle of the mass” – Generals defeat opposing armies by concentrating their forces “at a vital spot at a critical time.” Alexander defeated the Persians by exploiting a gap in their defences. Use this approach in business by providing the greatest items or services in your niche. Don’t branch out into other product or service lines until you’ve mastered your specialised market. According to Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, the most important element in business is focus. Always concentrate on the products and services that your company do.
Keep going it’s also done…
“The principle of maneuver” – Generals who win outmanoeuvre their opponents, much as Alexander did with the Persians. Expert strategists are adaptable; they think about “what might happen” and plan appropriately. Prepare to “move forward, backward, and sideways in the market as needed.”
“The principle of concerted action” – Teamwork is essential. Alexander felt he could rely on his troops since he had taught them to be the most disciplined soldiers in the world. Encourage a cooperation culture in which employees always use “us, we, and our” and perceive the organisation as a “logical extension of themselves.”
“The principle of surprise” – Alexander shocked the Persians and threw them off guard. Do the same to your competitors by introducing new products and services, as well as employing novel methods and processes.
“The principle of exploitation” – Don’t give up until you’ve achieved your goals. Continue forward to capitalise on your advantage. Your opponents will do all in their power to recoup lost ground. Continue to go on the offensive.