Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.
Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
—The Art of War, Sun Tzu
At heart, strategy is about improving one’s chances of winning.
Thus, it is not surprising that those who find themselves competing with others have adapted (and mal-adapted) military
strategic concepts. This phenomenon has been particularly
pronounced in the business world as scholars, consultants, and
managers embrace the basic strategic ideas of military thinking
in developing their own sets of tools.
Business managers started to adopt concepts of military
strategy when mass markets began to form in the late part of the
19th century and large manufacturing concerns became aware of
the advantages of coordinating different functions—production,
financing, marketing—giving rise to vertically integrated firms.
World War II provided additional impetus to the development
of quantitative strategic tools when entire armies of scientists
focused on solving the problem of optimizing the allocation of
scarce resources, thus creating techniques such as operations
research (OR). Examples of practical problems that were solved
using OR abound; one of the earliest was improvements in the
Royal Air Force’s radar defense systems. Success in this project
[Editor’s note: This is the second in a series on strategy
in contemporary business culture. For the first in the series,
please go to http://www.contingenciesonline.com/
contingenciesonline/20141112#pg32.] S H