Strategic Principles

English: Carl von Clausewitz
English: Carl von Clausewitz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“To remain faithful throughout to the principle we have laid for ourselves.” Clausewitz

Aim/Purpose: Every action must have an aim to it, a reason for the action because action is only taken to achieve an aim. This aim must be a clearly defined, decisive and attainable objective. It must answer clearly the question, What are we trying to do? The goal you are trying to reach must be based on available resources, and be the sole focus of any action taken.

“Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination” Clausewitz

Security: Never permit the opposition to acquire an unexpected advantage. Always maintain full operational, tactical, intellectual, information, and personal security. Don’t lay all your cards on the table, hide your strategy.

Morale: Always look after the safety, comfort and well-being of those under your control. This is more psychological than physical although the physical part greatly influences the psychological part. By scapegoating or throwing others to the wolves a leader will soon find himself alone. If the team does not have the will to win, it will fail. Motivate them to outperform the competition.

“Morale is to the physical three to one.” Napoleon Bonaparte

Flexibility: Time, opinions and attitudes are constantly changing. Plans and personalities must adjust to actual circumstances and not be governed by timetables and rigid plans and policies. The aim/purpose of your plan will always remain the same but the methods to achieve success must be open to change. A leader must have the ability to rapidly adapt to changing situations and unexpected developments.  This is a fundamental key to success. Many examples exist of governments/businesses failing because they would not adjust.

Economy of Effort: Use only what you need to accomplish your task, use balanced resources particular to the aim. Don’t waste resources on non essential activities/actions. Maintain your strength and don’t squander it trying to recover a failure or on tasks that are not achievable.

Concentrate Effort: Look after your resources while at the same time concentrating resources/effort/knowledge at the right place and time to ensure success. Use only what you need but make certain it is focused to achieve one particular aim.

Cooperation: It is always a team effort. Each department or part must cooperate with each other in order for all to succeed. Upper management must effectively organize the parts into a smoothly functioning whole. Morale is increased because it has been shown that each member is not alone but part of a team with a common goal.

Command Responsibility: There should be unity of effort under one responsible commander. Someone has to take responsibility for success, or failure. Do not fall into the trap of group consensus decision making. Have a leader and let them lead.

“Responsibility is a unique concept; it can only reside and inhere in a single individual…Unless you can point your finger at the person responsible when something goes wrong, then you have never had anyone responsible.”  Admiral Rickover USN

Administration/Logistics: This is the administrative organization of the day to day running of the business/organization  and the means of supporting it’s continuing operations. Under-administered organizations have supply chain difficulties while over-administered organizations fight change and lack originality in plans and operations.

Sir Humphrey Appleby‘s law of inverse relevance-the less you intend to do about something, the more you have to talk about it.

Take Action: Only offensive action wins, a football team’s defensive squad does not score the goals. Aims/goals can only be achieved/accomplished with aggressive, positive action. Taking the initiative and having an offensive spirit is central to the achievement of success provided the action is not taken in a completely fool-hardy manner. Take the ball and run with it until you win. Act and do not be forced to react so seize, retain and exploit the initiative to win. Force the other team to fall behind by having to account for what you are doing, not the other way around.


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