The Math of Business Growth

Generalship is largely the province of strategy and execution. Much has been learned from the Art of War and its application to business. There are many frameworks, constructs, tools and assets that can be deployed to succeed at war and in business. Organizations of Business and National defense can learn and benefit from each other and often do. It was General Eisenhower who said, “plans are worthless, but planning is everything”.  I once asked General Schwarzkopf a question at a conference  about one lesson that can transfer from his experience to business. He said, “when in command-COMMAND”. General Patton often remarked, “lead me, follow me or get out of my way”. The common thread is the balance of good strategy, planning and executions. Plans on a shelf without strong delivery do little good to advance an organization’s goals.

It has often been said that simple is better. To drive success one simple formula comes to mind – Ability x Will = Success. If you have zero in either property it produces failure. The goal is to identify drivers of the drivers of success, align your organization around them and reward winning. The United States military is the largest employer in the world with over 3.2 million employees. Developing and managing it’s “Ability” is critical to maintaining an edge. Moreover, morale or “Will” of the troops and other employees is vital to recruitment and readiness. While the stakes are much higher for “Success” outcome in defense the principles of winning can be applied to business.

In business developing institutional abilities is about carving our competitive advantage and creating core competencies. And then most importantly recruiting, retaining and rewarding the talent to execute on the abilities of the firm. Over the planning horizon specific tactics can be aligned against the properties in the equation to leverage organizational abilities and harden institutional will to succeed. This simple formula may help you and your organization avoid boiling the ocean and provide a framework to manage and measure success.



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