Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Is this Sparta? Specifically?

Many teams struggle with inefficiencies when they do not condition themselves to the cause, terrain and strategies necessary for the "specific" needs of the Domain they operate in. Battle Readiness must be specific and targeted to the battle. Team members and training rigor has to be specific for specific battles.

As an analogy, if you do not have the right team members, then the size of the army does not matter. A great farmer or an amazing educator has no place on the battlefield. No point debating counter-force, pincer-maneuver or shock-and-awe with a farmer and his pitchfork! Of-course you need farmers and poets and administrators to win the war. But, NOT on the battlefield.

Critically, if the team does not believe in the specific cause, or does not necessarily believe in the rigor, or do not trust in the discipline required to stick to rules during training and battle readiness, then no amount of strategy shall help.

I come across teams (startups or otherwise) filled with ambition (cause) but no experience (a farmer) or domain specificity (terrain knowledge or strategies necessary for their functions). Funnily enough, the teams skip through training or discipline needed on market-mapping, consumer research, competitive intel, product research, operations planning or partnership strategy formulation "specific to the markets of launch". Why is specificity, though elementary Mr. Watson, often overlooked?

Fancy terms like fail-fast is thrown at you! Ahem, fail-fast is a lab condition. Try fail-fast in key battles!! (Do not get me wrong. I love fail-fast, but within the right context).

Also, what works for Battle-of-Arbela, does not necessarily work for Battle-of-Waterloo. This is where re-training and tooling is necessary. A change in team execution or structure, technology and strategies comes to the fore. A winning team that may have succeeded during early-exploration may have to reconfigure while crossing the chasm.

The biggest hurdles usually arises when the teams have to set aside egos, equipments and emptying the cup to retrain when the battle condition changes. This sometimes is specifically hard to overcome. Its hard to stop living in the past. It does not matter if you have worked and succeeded in an amazing company which is loved by everyone. Yes, your knowledge and experience matters, but pre-canned solutions that worked for one battle (your past company, which had the largest army and a mountain of a war chest in a previous economy) may not work in the current battle (current company, which is either a start-up or still growth hacking).

Finally, among all virtues, its not Fortitude, but Patience that seemed to have effectively worked as winning strategies in many battles.

Holding the line is more harder than charging at will.