Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Military Moves on the Corporate Battlefield

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Military Moves on the Corporate Battlefield

Article excerpt


IF WAR is politics by other means, then so is big business. While Hollywood mega-agent Michael Ovitz likes to begin each day reading tracts of Sun Tzu's The Art of War, and BMW's Quandt clan prepare themselves for boardroom battle with extracts from Clausewitz's On War, the trend is actually to fight the battles themselves.

Wargaming in preparation for the big deal is all the rage in Europe. Perhaps because so much of the Continent is in fact one gigantic battlefield, it lends itself to the collective imaginations of managers and chief executives whose own Napoleonic traits need creative outlets.

Berlin business consultant Michael M?ller says: "Wargaming equals strategic planning for many executives in Europe. You might get 50 executives gathering for two to three days of intense role-playing before they put their suits on for a vital meeting, a takeover deal, a merger proposition.

"By simulating real-life situations, the bosses hope to create the feeling for snap decisions - right snap decisions."

Wargaming is essentially role-playing on the corporate battlefront. More and more executives at these sessions are expected to assume the identities of the corporate enemies they are ranged against and to defeat them in practice and reality.

"It really is a powerful tool to anticipate change and minimise risk," says Jani Peleshok, bearer of the military-sounding title of competitive intelligence manager at Anglo-Swedish drugmaking giant AstraZeneca.

She has organised a dozen wargames for her company, mostly in Europe but sometimes in America.

"By role-playing you get inside competitors' heads and I don't think you can do that with traditional management tools and planning," she says.

Household goods producer Unilever has developed an inhouse unit for effective wargaming, and analysts who note statistics on such things say wargaming is being used three times as much as it was a year ago. …

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