According to former Sears, Roebuck and Co. CEO and U.S. general, Robert E. Wood, “Business is like a war in one respect, if its grand strategy is correct, any number if tactical errors can be made and yet the enterprise proves successful.” Strategy, through the strategic planning process, is a function for all managers at a company.
In business, strategy can be looked at as war planning, interpreting the business landscape, mapping the moves, determining where to attack and where to defend, timing when and where to enter the field of battle and when to withdraw, and preparing how to isolate, encircle, or outflank the competition.
The adage, “the best offense is a good defense” is often used in many endeavors. Unfortunately, in strategic planning many solely concentrate on using offensive competitive moves. They fail to utilize the strategic benefits of defensive strategies in achieving the goal. In the writings of Machiavelli and Sun Tzu, defense is critical in warfare. As in the present war against terrorism, pre-emptive strikes, a defensive strategy, is at the heart of U.S. policy, i.e., “harm them before they harm us”.
Defensive moves are part of competitive strategies. As in war, as in sport, as in the game of chess, business defensive strategies are critical. Along with offensive strategies, defensive strategies allow the organization to move in various directions (forward, backward, and sideways). Eight critically important defensive strategies include:
In the business competitive spectrum, three phases in terms of timing exist when viewing the competitive landscape. This includes before a competitive attack phase, during a competitive attack phase, and after a competitive attack phase. See Exhibit I.
For a company, using defensive strategies before a competitor’s attack phase would include using either one or a combination of 1) signaling, 2) entry barriers, 3) global service, and 4) pre-emptive strike strategies. These strategies are designed to dissuade competitors from entering the market. During a competitive attack phase, companies can use the 6) counter-attack and/or 5) blocking strategies. And for after a competitor’s attack would either be a blocking and counter-attack strategy. Counter-attack and blocking strategies can also be used in this phase.
For- Strategic Management: Defensive Strategies (Part 1)
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Kotler, P. & Keller, K.L. (2005). Marketing Management. Practice Hall
Vasconcellos E. Sa, J.A. (2005). Strategy Moves: 14 Complete Attack and Defense Strategies for Competitive Advantage. Prentice Hall