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Applying Military Strategy to Your Work
Become a victor by following these 3 principles.


Did you know that there are many similarities between business and war? In both cases, the victor is the one who uses superior strategy against his or her competitor. Think about it. Are you a victor or are you falling behind?

There are three principles of military strategy you can apply to your work every single day. The first idea from the military is called the principle of maneuver. The principle of maneuver says that you should be clear about the goal, but be flexible about the process by which you achieve it. According to the Menninger Institute, flexibility is the most important quality required for success during times of rapid change.

Be Open to Continuous Feedback

A key peak performance quality is to “accept feedback and self-correct.” Peak performers are those who can take information, even if it is contrary to all of their planning, and accept the information, modify their plans, and continue moving forward. They are always open to new ideas and insights that their environments and peers reveal.

Learn What You Need to Know

The second military principle you can apply to business is the principle of intelligence. This principle simply means this: “Get the facts!”

The most important thing in business decision making is for you to get accurate information. Facts don’t lie. It is important that you get the real facts—not the assumed, obvious, or hoped-for facts. They are real and provable.

Make Better Decisions

Perhaps the key job of the executive is decision making. The quality of the decisions that you make will be in direct proportion to the amount of time you spend gathering timely and accurate information. The very best thing that you can do, if you have insufficient information, is to delay making a decision at all.

Invest Your Resources Wisely

The third military principle applied to strategic planning is the principle of economy of force. Economy of force means that you expend only the resources necessary to achieve the objective—not more. It also means that you commit sufficient resources to achieve the objective once you have decided upon it.

Since your own personal energy is all you really have to invest over the course of your lifetime, the military principle of economy says that you should be very selfish when deciding how you are going to use yourself. Keep asking yourself, “How important is this?” and, more important, “How important is this to me?”

Action Exercises

Here are two ideas that you can apply immediately to be more strategic in your work and personal life.

First, remain flexible when you are working towards your goal. In times of rapid change, all of your best ideas can be contradicted by new information. Be willing to try different things. Be open to new inputs and ideas.

Second, get the facts! The more and better information you can acquire before you make a decision, the better your decision will be. The very best managers spend a good amount of time getting the real, provable facts before they take action.

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