Why being unpredictable is bad strategy.
Keeping secrets can protect competitive advantage. Imagine the D-Day invasion of Normandy if the Allies had announced dates and locations. Ask Coca-Cola for its secret recipe and listen to a whole corporation laugh.
But secrecy is not the same thing as unpredictability. Secrecy creates an incentive to invest in assets, especially intellectual ones. Unpredictability bluffs, postures, and palters to gain advantage through uncertainty and misdirection. Unpredictability can put another party off-balance. It can confuse them, cloud their thinking, cause them to waste time and effort, and trick them into making a mistake.
My clients and students assume that competitors should surprise one another with their strategies. Your competitors,…hbr.org
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