Robert Ogilvie’s book ‘The art of war and company strategy’ gives a unique perspective on the world of corporate strategy and how to apply military strategems and theories upon that. The science of Business Administration is only a few centuries old, while military strategy has developed itself for milennia. With little adaptation, the strategems of the military leader (defend, conquer, outflank, infiltrate) can be translated to business strategies.
The book starts with chapters about general issues: what is strategy (including great military strategists such as Sun Tzu, Von Clausewitz and Jomini) and what is busines strategy. Then he explains the differences between strategy and tactics and goes into strategy planning, both military and corporate.
Each strategy has several critical factors (we usually know as KPI’s) and an entire chapter is devoted to that. More background then follows in a chapter about reconnaicance, intelligence and information (each company should have an intelligence department or official!) followed by a chapter about starting position and how to improve that before taking action.
The book is then finalised by chapters about tactics, the morale factor and leaderhip & organisation.
A large part of the book is aimed at corporate strategy and mainly a nice read, especially if you are interested in military applications. His writing style and obvious research make it very interesting even if you are not acting at enterprise level and there are several pieces of useful information and background throughout. Also, the applications of the abovementioned great strategical writers is useful to sharpen your own thoughts. For middle management the most applicable chapters were the ones about tactics, morale and leadership.
A nice feature of the book is the great number of cases (90 in total) of both military and company victories ánd defeats. Especially memorable is the case about the Pea-soup War.
All in all, an interesting and fun read, with several handy snippets of information and how-to’s to put to good use immediately. The use of OTVEM in every decision or project, the strategical principle of Jomini, the difference between the Anglo-American leadership style and the Prussian leadership, it’s all there.