WHAT WILL YOU DO ONCE YOUR STRATEGY IS KNOWN?
(Tenth in the series called “The Martial Marketer”. War strategies for work!)
The quest for revenge is an excellent motivator for some.
Rajarajan, in his quest to avenge his father’s death, attacked the Pandyas. After a resounding defeat and some solitary soul-searching, he found an alliance partner in Narasimhan III, the Hoysala King. Rajarajan married Narasimhan’s daughter Suganthi. She was a great foil to Rajarajan, bringing strategy and mental strength to the fold.
Rajarajan returned to the south, back into the erstwhile region of the once-mighty Chozhas. He returned with a significant portion of Narasimhan’s army and the burning desire to exact vengeance upon Sundara Pandyan, the murderer. Rajarajan had the confidence of a larger army. That thought was mixed with the previous defeat he had suffered. Some thoughts and memories never go away. They return like ghosts to haunt us, bringing anxiety and worry along. He had to brush it out and trust the commanders of the Hoysala army.
Rajarajan now had two advantages, Suganthi and Agastyan. Suganthi was trained in war strategy and kept him in balance. Narasimhan had asked one of his chief commanders, Agastyan, to accompany and assist him.
Agastyan, a battle scarred veteran, preferred to remain in the shadows. Not much was know about him or his methods except that he was always revered. There was an aura about Agastyan, that of seriousness and purpose. His expression was poker-faced, and his eyes never revealed anything. A disciplinarian, he relied more on getting to know his opponents better. Always at the vanguard of every attack, he won the respect of his men. That brought in implicit obedience in orders. His speed and agility defied his age. He displayed his prowess every day in the practice field. He did it with multiple weapons and bouts and simulated fights.
Considerable time was spent in the strategy tent, assessing internal strengths and weaknesses; and planning various defense and attack modes. A floor model of the critical forts of Sundara Pandya was made. A wall chart with the names of his commanders, their strengths and weaknesses. Agastyan became the mentor that Rajarajan yearned for.
The army was broken up into smaller troops, some disguised as local villagers. Sundara Pandyan should not have an inkling of a big army moving towards him. Stealth and deception were at play. Agastyan knew what needed to be done. His methods were simple and effective.
At a pre-agreed location, the men assembled. The army took shape once again, near a border fort. The troops encircled the fort and send a message asking the fort leader to surrender. When the answer was no, all communication and food supply routes were cut out. Completely. After a week, the fort leader sent a message asking for food for the elderly. Agastyan replied, asking the leader to send these people out to the tents, where his people would care for them. By the end of the second week, the fort leader had no choice but to give up, to save his people. The choices one is forced to make! A bloodless takeover of the fort boosted the confidence of Rajarajan and his army.
The same strategy was used in the next couple of forts. By ensuring no communication was leaked to fortifications and commanders further south, they had the power of surprise and complete snuffing out of contact and supplies.
These victories buoyed Rajaran’s spirits, and he wanted more. He pressed on the commanders and forced his way to ensure more of his armies attacked Sundara’s forces. More more more. Speed speed speed.
They reached the next perimeter of Sundara Pandya’s region. The forces were split, with Agastyan learning one and Rajarajan the other. Sundara had his region planned out in concentric circles, each defending the next level, till the core.
Rajarajan and his army arrived at the next fort. He lead the attack on this fort, much bigger than the others. Encirclement, messages to the fort leader, and cutting out ingress and egress: all followed to the letter.
“Hey, we’ve been doing this for a while now. We know what we are doing.”, was the thought going through Rajarajan!
One week lead to the second. Second to the third. His supplies were running out, and his men were getting tired of waiting. At the end of the fourth week, he received a message from Agastyan. Rajarajan was advised to give up this siege and rejoin the other troops who needed support in another area. Grudgingly, his army left the siege and made their way back to their new main base. The men were walking like the air was pulled out of a balloon — slow, weary. The loss in one’s mind is the hardest to digest and get over.
After the initial wins, Sundara had mud on his face once again. He was fighting the superior forces of the Pandyas. All his recent attacks were lost. The forts weren’t giving up like earlier. His men became more despondent and dulled.
He was a worried man once more. This time with a borrowed army!
What could he do?
“I did everything, just like what we did earlier. Why did we lose out now?”
Rajarajan and his walking meditative introspection, asking himself tough questions. It is funny that when things are going right, the team’s intellect is not rewarded. The leader, though, thinks it is all his effort and so pushes on, with vanity leading the way mostly.
He reached the camp and went straight to Agastya’s tent. Agastya’s army had captured two more forts in the meantime. Given Agastya’s age, experience, and respect for people around him, Rajarajan had no hesitation in asking him questions about the loss.
“Commander, why did I lose?”
“” Sire, a strategy is useful as long as it is secret. We should never under-estimate the enemy. They have their spies and communication methods that will continue regardless of the siege.
We have captured so many forts in the last few months, the news must have reached Sundara Pandyan. The forts that I had captured had started digging tunnels to ensure supplies and secrecy. It so happened that we arrived before it could be completed, so they had to give up. Your fort, though, was bigger and farther into the Kingdom. It had a mini lake inside. I am confident they had multiple tunnels built and also had a food stockpile inside the fort.”
“What should we do?”
“ADAPT. Now that this fort-encirclement strategy is known, all other forts would be better prepared. We need to think of newer methods. We will.”
“So, do we attack now?”
“Now, Sire, you will sleep and recharge! A fresh mind and body is required for effective strategy formulation.”
- A strategy needs to adapt to the enemy. By using the same methods, you are exposing yourself to significant attack and loss.
- A leader must trust his commanders and allow them to do the job they are best suited for.
- Prepare for Victory and loss. A victory is just around the corner. So is a failure.
- Surrender is not defeat. When the enemy is much stronger, flee, and plan for an indirect attack.
- Bloodless victories are that much sweeter. Only a capable leader is smart enough to plan for it. Mediocre and useless leaders crave for blood and let vanity get in their way.
Lessons from Sun Tzu.
- — — — — — — — — — -
This is the tenth in the series called “The Martial Marketer”. War strategies for work!
1. Marketing Camouflage! Success is sweet.
2. A Trojan variation to defend and attack.
3. Victory at all costs.
4. Size does matter.
5. Fight the fight within, first.
6. The (marketing) warrior without vanity.
7. Playing with Perception.
8. Fools rush in.
9. An alliance is the way forward.
Pravin Shekar is an outlier marketer, parallel entrepreneur and a raconteur.
mic @ PravinShekar.com .
For creative collusions, join: http://bit.ly/JoinMyOutlierTribe
Pravin is the author of seven books: Devil Does Care, Marketing lessons from Mythology, Getting paid to speak, a Virtual Summit Playbook, Climb your way out of hell & a collection of travel pics/romantic poems, and stories from the heart!
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