Business as War: Battling for Competitive Advantage By Kenneth Allard
This book is meant to be dangerous. Provocative. Ar resting. Like a brick thrown through the plate-glass window of the CEO’s office, the meeting room of the board of directors, or the faculty club of the business school that hits you up all the time foralumni contributions. I argue that today’s competitive environment for the business leaders is sufficiently hazardous and uncertain that you are better off thinking of it not as business but as war. To help you cope, or even to survive, you need to understand the secrets of the warrior things that probably were not a part of either your professional business education or all that other stuff you like to put on your resume. So fasten your seat belt, because we’re in for a rough ride but an interesting one. And leave those other business books right there on the shelf where they are: Not only do they not have the right answers, the authors aren’t even sure what the right questions are. But you may have noticed that already because business thinkers typically attempt to solve individual problems which they will then publish with overwrought titles suggesting breakthrough solutions. Or even better, they propound the absurd notion that strategy is nothing more difficult than conjuring up some “big hairy audacious goals” at your next corporate outing. If you have a penchant for silly ideas often dulled by some characteristically bad writing However, you may occasionally notice that those approaches in effect leave you intellectually disarmed in a changing environment that does not lend itself to such facile solutions essentially slogans masquerading as dynamic new approaches to some much more fundamental problems of the business environment.
The author, a former army colonel currently featured as a military analyst on MSNBC and NBC News, is convinced that corporate America can learn vital lessons from the U.S. military. Business executives, according to Allard (Command, Control and the Common Defense), today function in a chaotic atmosphere dominated by globalization and rapidly changing information technology. He argues that recent corporate scandals such as the collapse of Enron as well as the high salaries of CEOs are symptomatic of the lack of leadership in industry, a loss that seriously impedes business success. Drawing on myriad examples from the military, Allard provides a series of war plans that he believes can change the corporate environment. Included is a recommendation to emulate the training followed at West Point to build idealistic managers, to devise overall military-like strategies rather than marketing plans and to be aware of and responsible for security programs to combat electronic terrorism. While Allard's proposals to improve business leadership have merit, many of the military analogies are repetitive and forced. Much of his advice is delivered in an off-putting, hectoring tone that sometimes borders on bragging, and his potshots at former president Clinton feel inappropriate for a business manual.
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