The Art of War – Strategic Planning and Strategic Execution

The Art of War – Strategic Planning and Strategic Execution

By: William Eveleth   |     February 1, 2020

There is a book; a book said to be so profound that any general or leader who implemented its teachings and strategies would be invincible.  The book was kept in the Forbidden City and shared only with the most elite. The book was written around 500 BC, it’s old, very old. Word of the magical book had spread through myth and conjecture over the centuries. Imagine a warlord of ancient China talking with his generals, “Get me that book and we will rule all the lands!” That warlord knew the importance of an effective and executable strategy. The book defined effective STRATEGIES and was (still might be) considered the “most influential strategy text in East Asian warfare and has influenced both Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics, legal strategy, lifestyles and beyond.” (yes, I’m quoting Wikipedia)

The book: The Art of War, by Sun Tzu

Think about the strategy for your business. Should it be your Art of War?  Should your executives believe, like the Generals of the Warlord, if they follow and execute this strategy, you will be invincible? Maybe your strategy won’t stand the test of 2,500 + years; shouldn’t it stand the test of at least 2 or 3 years?

How do you Plan for Greatness and make it happen?

Let’s talk about building your Art of War. We call it “Where to Play – How to Win” and base it on a 2,500-year-old book.

steps objective contents
1 Assessment Plan – Organize -Direct -Control; SWOT; people – organizational chart; products – product mix – product lifecycle – strategic and operating gaps
2 Define Challenges Identify your “Most Important Goal” and define issues facing each facet of your organization
3 Markets and Products “Where to Play”  What is your sustainable competitive advantage and who are the opponents you are battling?
4 Positioning What positions do you need to defend?
5 Building Momentum Clarity around the “Most Important Goal” for your business and engagement; what is your initial 5-year forecast for your selected products and financial performance?
6 Beating the Competition  Who is your competition, how are they better than   you? Do you know what your customers really want?
7 Avoiding Losing Battles “How to Win” Don’t get involved in battles without enough reward when you win and too much cost when you lose. Focus only on the battles that will move the strategic needle.
8 Nimbleness How will you keep your team quick and agile in the face of an ever-changing environment while executing the plan?
9 Flexibility Are you giving your team latitude to make decisions, to springboard off opportunities which arise?
10 Product Landscape What are you offering, how are you changing what you offer?
11 Stages of Implementation Laying the plan out, actionable, well understood steps
12 Winning Strategic execution
13 Updating the Plan Periodic meetings to ask questions, review progress and update the plan using manual and cloud-based tools

Each of the 13 steps should be answered with: Who, What, When, Where, How, Why and How Much. Starting with the “Most Important Goal”, the leadership team (and its stakeholders) need to define their “Where to Play” – “How to Win”priorities and then focus on developing supporting tactics using a cascading methodology which will provide strategic alignment throughout the organization.

I leave you with this final thought from Sun Tzu:

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”

Group 50 Consulting has led the strategic planning efforts with many companies from start-ups to large multinationals. Our Where to Play  – How to Win” methodology takes a team through a process designed to create a strategy and effectively execute it.  Let us know if we can help you build your Art of War and start you Planning for Greatness.  You can reach a Group50 strategic planning expert at (909) 949-983, request more information here, or drop us a line at


About the Author: Bill Eveleth is a strategic planning and operations consultant with Group50. Prior to that, he was a corporate SVP of Finance with a $22 billion company and led a team of over 500 professional employees. He and his family lived in Belgium for two years where Bill was on assignment with AT&T. He is the author of four books: one on goal setting and attainment, two on operations management and the last a book of stories and life lessons. Bill has taught college since 2008.  His classes have included: Introduction to Business, Ethics, Project Management, Operations Management and others.  He has taught for The University of Arkansas since 2011, at the graduate level, in their Master of Science in Operations Management program. Bill’s education includes a BBA and an MBA both from the University of North Texas.

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This entry was posted in Business Transformation, Strategy 5.0, on February 1, 2020

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