This week’s strategy class dealt with competition and the question of how to approach it. We discussed different methods, most prominent of them being Judo Strategy. This theory takes the ideas of Judo (momentum, balance, leverage) and applies them to the strategic business world. The analogy is very intuitive and I think it really helps in understanding how companies should approach competition (from both directions).
But as I was sitting in class thinking about this, it occurred to me, that this theory creates a frame of competition. If you are a manager, and you spend most of your day thinking about your competition in terms of battles, Judo and so forth, what happens to you when you start thinking about your employees? What is the frame of mind you approach when you try to think about internal procedures? How hard it must be for a manager to change the frame of mind he uses to think when he starts thinking about his employees? And off course, treating our employees as strategic enemies is not a good idea.
This got me thinking on a subject I touched upon a number of times in this blog. The difference between managers and leaders, the expectation that all managers will do both and the problems that this approach creates.
I don’t think there is simple solution to the fact that this framing exists. But, the solution will be closer when we realize that leaders and managers are different, both in the talents needed for their success and in what they need to concentrate on. Of course, I do realize that some roles, especially those on high levels of organizations require people who should be able to do both. These people have to make sure that they are actively making a difference in their thinking about each of these roles. Even the Judo fighter steps out of the ring in the end of the fight, takes his gear off and goes home to his family. The Judo fighter actively changes his state of mind before going home. We need to make sure we do that.