Articles by Advanced Competitive Strategies

What Has To Happen

What has to happen for a strategy to work? That’s a critical question for strategists to ponder, before and after adopting a strategy. This article talks about the explicit, implicit, and unconscious assumptions that must come true for a strategy to work as planned.

Which Strategy is Right for My Company?

A simple, high-level, wide-ranging essay on how to design, test, and decide upon a strategy for your company.

Honey, We Shrunk the Automobile Industry

A business war game. Five automotive teams: Ford, GM, Hyundai, Toyota, Volkswagen. One set of customer judges, one set of investor judges. Three market segments. Fascinating, unexpected results.

Practice Makes Much, Much Better

Nobody ever intentionally makes bad decisions, yet bad decisions get made. Nobody ever writes a plan that they expect will fail, yet plans fail. We have a choice: We can learn from experience, or we can learn before experience. We can learn where it’s dangerous, or we can learn where it’s safe.

Who Would You Follow?

Because crises are uncommon or unprecedented, there are no instruction manuals and no done-it-a-thousand-times experts to tell leaders how to cope with them. Yet we need leaders to lead, and because the stakes are so high in crises we need them to lead well.

What We Know that Ain’t So

The true story of how a multinational company successfully avoided a crisis.

“We Are Fully Prepared”; or, Why Plans Fail

We often ask – especially after a disaster – how we can hold people more accountable or get rid of those incompetents who failed to implement the plan. But maybe, to quote former Intel CEO Andy Grove, “That is not the right question.” Maybe the right question is why did people believe we were prepared when we were not?

You Say You Want A Revolution

Executives don’t want any revolutions. They want good revolutions, revolutions that lead to better performance. They don’t want to say “our managers are revolting;” they want to say “our managers are thinking.” Because evolutionary management tools and strategic decision-making processes can thwart revolutionary thinking, executives also need strategy-development technologies that support and sustain their revolutions.

Calculating, Imagining, and Managing: Using war games to leverage intelligence and improve strategy decisions

It is fashionable, at least in some circles, to extol creativity and imagination. We agree. But just as data without interpretation and action is useless, we believe that creativity without rigor is limited at best and dangerous at worst. Fortunately, with changes in technology, it is unnecessary. Business war games, in their multiple forms, help strategists combine human creativity with the power of computer simulation to make better competitive-strategy decisions.

Intelligence, Decisions, and Intelligent Decisions

Intelligence — data, research, analysis — doesn’t make strategy decisions; people make strategy decisions. What do those people need, and why do they (seem to) resist intelligence? This article discusses influences such as onverconfidence, habit, accountability, tailgating, and more. It also discusses how to get the most from a company’s intelligence through strategy simulation and business war games.

With All This Intelligence, Why Don’t We Have Better Strategies?

With all our skills, data, enthusiasm, opportunities, knowledge, motivation, and power, why do we produce strategies that fail? This article discusses the inherent shortcomings in conventional models and human thinking that make it easy for even the best strategists to fall into bad strategy decisions. It concludes with practical advice to help strategists improve creative thinking and decision-making.

What If? How to Create a Great Strategy

What if you could answer your what-if questions before you make a key strategy decision? What if you could realistically and rigorously test your options before you committed real money? What if you could raise the odds that you’d make wise decisions and create a great strategy? As this article describes and illustrates, that’s what strategy simulation is for. So: what if you investigated strategy simulation?

Anchors Weigh Down Competitive Thinking

In business, some numbers take on a special status: the cost of capital, the rate of inflation, the market average, last year’s results, the industry benchmark, six sigma, the budget. These and other numbers are so exalted, we rarely notice, let alone question, their unintended consequences as anchors; that is, numbers that invisibly lock our thinking in place. This article focuses on freeing our thinking by finding and lifting hidden anchors.


Alignment is a potent form of competitive advantage, particularly in these days of quick response to customer needs and competitor actions. Alignment with those inside your company helps you move as a team; alignment with those outside your company helps you move where there’s gold.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Business War Games

Having conducted business war games for dozens of the world’s largest companies, we’ve learned a lot about what to do, and what not to do. This article (which includes a bonus deadly sin, for a total of eight) helps strategists design business war games that work.

Making Competitors Intelligent: The Element of Surprise

Would you rather have smart or stupid competitors? If you think it’s always best to keep competitors in the dark, you may be missing an opportunity to manage your competitors and to raise the odds of your success.

Business War Games

Business war games can be hugely and dramatically effective, and yet few managers know how to design or select a business war game, or how and when a business war game can add value. This article presents key concepts and options for any company interested in business war games.

To Need or Not to Need Intelligence

Strategists make two mistakes regarding intelligence. One: I need the intelligence. Two: I don’t need the intelligence. The question, though, is not whether intelligence is valuable. The question is how to make intelligence valuable.

Putting the Lesson before the Test: Using Simulation to Analyze and Develop Competitive Strategies

Simulation can play a powerful role in developing and analyzing competitive-strategy options. Using simulation, managers have developed successful strategies, anticipated events that later occurred in real life, and learned about strategy, and their own businesses, at each step of the simulation process. Simulations give managers something that athletes have always had: the ability to practice before facing actual competitors.

Learning Faster Than The Competition: War Games Give The Advantage

Business war games help managers anticipate, respond to, and even induce change. They’re needed because the greater the change the more trends don’t hold, experience doesn’t fit, benchmarks don’t apply, and previous strategies don’t work. There is no universally accepted meaning for the term “business war game,” let alone the practice of business war-gaming. This article discusses how to assess and implement a business war game for your company.