Last update   PvD

Competitive Strategies

Direct Confrontation

In this context we assume two parties having the same objective.  Also, achieving that goal is more or less mutually exclusive, i.e. only one party can 'win'.  So the two parties are in competition.  If you want to win, you have to develop a strategy to beat your opponent.

The strategies presented here are basic, and borrowed from the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu (≈500 BC).  But they are similarly applicable in business competition.

In a confrontation, there are 4 basic strategies:

Frontal attack / Direct strategy
By far the most used strategy, but only effective for the dominant party.  If you have superior products/­services and/or major market share (installed base) a good strategy (actually defensive).  But if you are the underdog, not a good idea:  it is like fighting tanks with soldiers on foot !
Indirect strategy / Surprise
Avoid the level playing field by changing the rules and/or conditions:  make that it is not the basic product but additional functionality or services that makes it the most attractive package.  E.g. a management dashboard (higher level functions), and approach a manager in the customer's organisation that he does really need that, so the selection criteria change.
Divide and Conquer / Guerrilla tactics
Concentrate on minor wins (e.g. an add-on feature, niche products/services);  with that you obtain a foothold and can steadily move in the main area.
Delay the confrontation
Obviously you don't win, but neither does your opponent.  The delay gives you the opportunity to build-up strength, so you can face the confrontation later.  In the mean time, try to exhaust your opponent.

Obviously, do not start without knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, and those of your competitor.  With multiple parties, the picture becomes more complex.

Other statements by Sun Tzu:

In a direct confrontation, the offensive party determines when it takes place and potentially where;  the defensive party will try to block any victory by the opponent (eg. by strengthening weak places) and act reactive.

Beware to really corner your opponent;  he may then fall back on extreme measures.

Developing a strategy

For a specific conflict case you should analyse:

Make sure that your plan can be adapted (there is always something going wrong).

Multi-party Conflict

If there is a conflict where many parties may be involved, you have the option to:

Usually, the last option is the best (and the most difficult).

If a conflict takes too long it will probably run into a deadlock (because no party is having serious success);  this is very bad as the conflict consumes much resources so everything else comes to a standstill.