“Every battle is won before it is fought."
These lines come from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, a guide to military strategy written more than two thousand years ago. Why is this still relevant to the barbecue business and part of my leadership strategy today? The Art of War lays out a brilliant philosophy that has proven itself in all types of competitive endeavors. It’s remarkable how the same lessons are discovered again and again. We apply these techniques to our service model in order to stay fresh and relevant in the industry.
Not a great deal is known about Sun Tzu the man, but his instructions for victory have taken on new meaning for business leaders such as myself. As Rick Wartzman, executive director of The Drucker Institute, wrote last year in Forbes, “Ask businesspeople to peg the writer whose thinking is most clearly reflected in both military and corporate circles, and odds are that you’ll hear the name.”
"Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril" - Sun Tzu
Business has always been challenging, but as competition becomes more global and moves at a faster-pace, it has increased its edge. Business intelligence is crucial to learning competitor's strengths and weaknesses and understanding the capabilities of our own company. At Dickey’s we work at understanding the nuances that make us a growing brand. Understanding that big picture is how we stay relevant.
Sun Tzu gives us strategy from a warrior’s perspective. Although we’re not at war, we are committed to actions that march our brand forward and bring our guests value. Strategy does not eliminate risk but it does help us approach the right risks. Innovation is at its core, an act of discovery, in which we must embrace the uncertainty of the environment, exploring it for opportunities and ways to serve better.
In other words, it’s the science of making good decisions about the future. It starts with the mission of the company and knowing what we stand for. After that, strategy must consider how the climate is changing in order to remain innovative and fresh. Not war but a great strategy for the art of great barbecue.