Business Strategy vs. Chess Strategyposted by Anna Mar, April 10, 2013
When you see a good move, look for a better one.Chess is about outcomes. Every potential move opens up a new universe of possible outcomes.
~ Emanuel Lasker
The art of chess is to see future outcomes and apply strategies to win. Business is no different.
Poor StrategyA poor chess strategy fails to see the potential consequences of a single move.
For example, an absolute beginner at chess might move a Queen where it can be lost (not as a strategy but as a mistake).
Mediocre StrategyA mediocre strategy considers the immediate consequences of a move. If a move results in the loss of a Queen, the move is avoided.
Master StrategyA chess master can see many levels of possible outcomes for each move. A player who considers 3 levels of outcomes in their strategy almost always beats a player who considers 2 levels.
A chess master might purposely give up a piece to obtain a long term advantage in a game. This is known as a combination.
Combinations are complex strategies that require thinking through a large number of possible future outcomes.
A computer can potentially evaluate many levels of outcomes in the game of chess. However, eventually the levels don't have as much impact.
A player who can see 3 levels can apply sophisticated strategies that can potentially beat a computer that's looking at 7 levels.
Business StrategyAs in chess, a business that considers 2nd and 3rd level outcomes tends to have an advantage over a business that only considers immediate outcomes.
Two businesses consider adopting an aggressive sustainability strategy. The first business only looks at the short term:
In the short term, a sustainability program generates publicity but requires effort, risk, change, costs, hiring and a culture shift. All these things can potentially threaten short term profits and incentives. As a result, a business that just looks at the short term has little incentive to start a meaningful sustainability program.
However, a business that looks at the long term has a different view:
In the long term sustainability can represent competitive advantages such as innovation, brand value, reputation, efficiency, productivity, employee engagement and stronger customer relationships.
A long term business strategy usually beats short term tactics.
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