The Six Principles and 27 Articles for Competitive Strategy

July 8th 2013 in Publications

By Dr. Terry Tucker, PhD



The following principles and articles represent a framework for education and planning.  They are not prescriptive, immutable, nor should be considered inviolable.  They should be understood as both the art and science of the subject. Art excepts rules and principles, but only as a guide.  The crucial element is recognizing uniqueness in context and to create advantage by violating rules and principles when needed.

The Principles


1. Understanding: Business like war requires that “the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgement to make is to establish the kind of war (business) you are embarking.” Fundamentally it is about understanding the environment and is an iterative competition where patterns are a result of complex combination of factors.  The crafting of strategy requires a deep, detailed and nuanced understanding

2. End State: The Aim, or Objective is the most universal principle across all strategies and plans.  But objectives are not always well defined and translating those objectives to political, social, economic, military and informational sub sets to support the aim are frequently ignored, or mismatched. Continued, and frequent interaction and analysis is required to insure intentions match aims.

3. Unity of Purpose: Harnessing efforts and capabilities across myriad organizations toward a common aim can be a Herculean task, but the inability to achieve this unity exposes the entire organization to risk, loss and burden.

4. Credibility: Credibility is fundamental at the implementation level of strategy.  All actions must serve to create, maintain, and sustain credibility with the customer, client, and organization.  If you fail to deliver what you promised you erode the trust element in your relationship and erode your credibility.

5. Endurance: The combined capabilities of people and organizations that demonstrate and facilitate the resolve of your commitment.

6. Agility: Leaders must place a premium on agility on leaders and subordinates. Mental agility comes from frequent “red-teaming” simulations that tests one’s judgement against tough thinking opponent’s.  The ability to change direction, processes or methods of operation is crucial to success. Operational and tactical agility comes from decentralized and distributed operations to deal with ambiguous or threatening situations.  Agility is empowerment to lead to utilize strengths in human capital. Agility increases tempo.

The Articles


Organizations require a clear understanding of their external risk exposure in order to make informed decisions.  Events, such as disasters, and political turmoil have shown the need for better risk intelligence.

Organizations rarely use geopolitical analysts to assist key stakeholders in sorting through the competitive and business intelligence risk.  Geopolitical Risk is generally handled through avoidance – diversification of assets – by avoiding the risk in certain locations, or spreading it across other industries and sectors.

“Geopolitical risk is complex and the causal relationships are difficult to determine.  The number of factors that affect political decisions is often quite large and it can be difficult to understand the interaction of the many variables that influence a political outcome.  This complexity likely leads senior managers to rely on other techniques they understand better (such as diversification, purchasing political risk insurance, or adding a risk premium to the required rate of return) instead of using geopolitical analysis.

By including political risk in the risk budgeting process, investors and organizations can better understand downside risks and be able to better diversify their investments.ii Geopolitical analysts can also support scenario planning to highlight how political crises could affect certain asset prices.iii Political risk analysis can help with asset selection (determine the ‘safest’ access point to get exposure to a region or asset) and performance attribution (how much of the overall performance is coming from the geopolitical risks being incurred by portfolio managers).”

1) The nature of UN Intervention is still ill-defined; Libya, Syria, The Balkans, Haiti, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq…”the UN has yet to clarify what is meant by expressions such as “imminent violence,” “all necessary means,” or “prejudice to the responsibilities.” UNSC passed Resolution 1973 (UNSCR 1973) on the response to the events in Libya.  It was the first time that the term Protection of Civilians (PoC) was used as the primary stated objective in a non-consensual intervention.

2) Business and FDI is increasingly viewed as “a new generation of multidimensional peacekeeping operations.  Business, like Peacekeepers are increasingly charged with nation- building tasks, such as economic rehabilitation, democratization, building civil institutions and working police forces, humanitarian aid, and assistance in repatriation of refugees.

3) Precision Dominance; process is also a value chain and business intelligence keep the chain informed; does feedback loops inhibit the process?  Does decision making and analysis inhibit the process?

4) Information Dominance does not mean Decisional Dominance: Information is not insight, it must be translated to insight.

5) Strategic blunders account for the greatest loss; this loss can occur slowly, or quickly, it is a result of a confluence of information and events unnoticed, not acted on, or ignored.

6) Doers are deciders and the ability to foresee consequences is critical; is content, information and processes leveraged for Reach, Resonance and Relevance across all your planning domains?

7) Social Media Influencers do not necessarily translate to a causal effect.  I might “like” something, but how often has someone actually acted on something just by “liking” it, or acted on a call to action?

8) The achievement of coherent effects requires the understanding of expectations and relationships at multiple level’s – from the Strategic plan to the implementation of those plans.

9) How is this achieved? Demographics and Competitive Business Intelligence provide key information about an environment – the collection process – describes “What “ exists, this process does not describe “Why. ”

10) Intelligence – Business, Competitive, Military – overlaps to describe what exists.  This in turn essentially identifies, SWOT. But the central purpose of intelligence is to bridge the gap between “What,” “Why,” “Perceiving,” and reacting to the situation.  For example: “Nocturnal conditionsand Congregation Points.”

11) Linking political events, important dates, and crafting cultural comparison charts reduces assumptions and offers comparative perspectives.  This is helpful in understanding ideologies, politics, and other relevant information.

12) These assessments are meant to measure the disparities between players, actions and perceptions.

13) Accelerating Technology makes the present and future conflict scenarios more intense (emotionally passionate) and complex. Gauging sentiment is a must.

14) “First Out” with messaging, regardless if the message is right or wrong, wins the playing field.

15) The Three Block War (Environment, Organization, People) consists of multiple decentralized operations with varying degrees of tempo, intensity, complexity, and the added requirement of defeating the social media echo chamber.

16) No plan, of any kind, can be viewed in isolation.  Plans must include political, social, economic, informational and infrastructure elements.  Business and Sovereign Investment Funds must consider social, military, political and geopolitical risk assessments.

17) The Schwerpunkt of operations is a continuum triad of social-political and economic events.  This is the new ways to the Ends, Ways, and Means planning.

18) The previous categories of Irregular War and Blue Ocean Strategy (for business) are obsolete; Disruption, along a spectrum from minimal to catastrophic is the required planning norm.

19) All tactical and on the ground local actions must translate to achieving multiple strategic domains (political, economic, social, informational) in simultaneity.

20) Sequential operations have been overtaken by simultaneity that includes a much broader range of players, actors and domains.

21) Effects-Based-Operations are “cognitiveand spatial” in planning for desired outcomes.

22) Planning is best done in an Lean Business Model Approach that incorporates multiple iterative adjustments based on “Spatial understanding.”

23) The greatest transformations in history impacted the “Spatial Understanding” of time and distance in planning (railroad, telegraph, gunpowder, and mechanization). Understanding and exploiting this resulted in the greatest successes.

24) Current technology has generated faster and precise capabilities in time, space and distance, yet does not exploit these capabilities as a process for “spatial understanding.”

25) War is war and business is business, whether large or small the nature of strategy remains the same; rule sets, or, thinking differently change the ends, ways, and means.

26) A focus on systemic elements will expose one to costly disappointment’s; the application of spatial understanding in strategy presumes good data, good anthropology, and good sociology.

27) People and people understanding spatial elements will make the difference.

Dr. Terry Tucker (PhD) is a Senior Consultant for Spatial Terra Consulting Group, a contributor to Wikistrat, a Global Marketplace for geopolitical analysis, and a Department of Defense Analyst. In addition, he is an academic and professor of history. Dr. Tucker was a Senior U.S. Department of Defense Analyst (DoD)  for Yorktown Systems Group, Cubic Applications and MPRI, an L3 Communications Company; a Stability/Counterinsurgency Advisor; trainer to the Royal Saudi Arabian Land Forces;  and was Director of Material Logistics and Planning, and implemented total supply chain solutions for numerous Fortune 500 Companies while he was at National Oilwell-Varco, W.W.Grainger and Prosero.  Dr. Tucker is currently a member of the Ideas That Shape (ITS) Advisory Board.