Go & Strategy #1: Tactic vs Strategy, what is your next move?

First things first, I must admit, I love strategy games especially Go. I can’t go without.
Go is a venerable game that was born in China, some say 2000 years ago, some even say 4000 years ago.
Two players, Black & White, start on an empty board and, one stone at a time, strive to build their empire. The tools? First mover advantage, influence building, agile invasion, submarine moves, all-ins, probes and paradigm shifts among others.
In my opinion, studying it can teach us a lot. One word of caution: some people exposed to it find it extremely addictive.

For my very first topic, I’ll explore a core area of go, tactic and strategy. I’m pretty sure it can benefit managers, business owners, people planning their next move in their careers, marketers, gamers and every person that ask themselves: what should I do next?

Credits: Tokyo Newcomer movie by Jiang Qinming

Starting go is like being thrown in the middle of a survival TV show: on the board you can go anywhere, left, right, up, down, middle or even hide in the corners. You don’t know what is important and what you should do next: is it finding shelter, securing food or maybe looking for help?
Let’s say you pick one of the three, now is the question: how do you find a shelter, secure food or look for help in a safe way? By the way, strategic question, do you have enough time to take the safe approach?

This is the difference between tactic and strategy. Strategy is the “what”, tactic is the “how” in other words strategy is doing the right things while tactic is doing things right.

Let’s take a business example, marketing. You probably read 108 ways to attract customers via Twitter, Facebook and your company website.
Great you have now a lot of tools, you are a master of the “how”, now my question for you is: do you really want those customers?
You will probably say, “Having customers is always good, right?” I might reply:

  • “Imagine that you open a restaurant, market it through every channels you know of.
  • On November 6, grand opening, except that a huge queue forms that you now have to satisfy.
  • Do you have the space, the staff, enough raw ingredients, enough waiters? Do your waiters know everything that you propose?”

There are examples of such stories from boutiques that used Groupon to promote their services. Service went wrong affecting both Grouponists and the regular old-timers.
So now you’re asking, “Where do I find strategy in marketing?”
Great question, strong go players always ask themselves questions to ascertain what is happening and how to react:
* Why does she play there? (Opponents are often called “she” in Go)
* What are my weaknesses?
* What are my strengths?
* What about her?
* So what should I look out for?
* Are there new opportunities that arise ?
That actually is called a SWOT analysis in the business world, SWOT for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. One of the most popular framework used in strategic marketing to assess the next move.

For the next episode, will Tactic beat Strategy or will Strategy trample all over Tactic’s pride? Stay tuned!

Hope you liked it. I would be delighted if you follow my fresh and dedicated Twitter account @GoAndStrat.