Over the next year, through a series of 61 posts, I'm going to go through in some detail various forms of gameplay that can be used when you have a map of a business environment.
I need to emphasise Sun Tzu's five factors in competition - purpose, climate, landscape, leadership and doctrine - however unfortunately most ignore climate & landscape (a bit like trying to use Boyd's OODA loop but ignoring the observe & orientate bit). The problem with this is that whilst the game plays can help you manipulate the landscape, if you can't see the environment then they can be downright dangerous. It's always a good idea to look where you're shooting before you fire the rifle.
In normal circumstances, you will use your map with multiple of these game plays in concert. Of course, you'll need to have used your map to determine your direction of travel and where you wish to attack first. This is often an iterative process itself known as scenario planning.
The complete set of plays that I'll be covering are provided in figure 1. NB, I've shaded the plays according to how 'evil' or 'good' they are using AD&D terminology. I've provided some basic summary descriptions below and as I post the details then I'll add links to make it easy to navigate.
Figure 1 - The plays.
These forms are about improving the organisation itself.
- Focus on user needs
A key aspect of mapping is to focus the organisation on user needs rather than internal needs. Often this process enables unmet needs (opportunities) to be discovered and friction to be removed from the process of dealing with customers.
- Situational Awareness
The act of mapping tends to remove alignment issues between business, IT and other groups by providing a common language. It enables the development of a common purpose and empowers groups to take advantage of their part of the map whilst understanding the whole.
- Effective & Efficient
Removal of bias and duplication within an organisation along with the use of appropriate methods for management and purchasing. Do not underestimate the potential savings possible, cost reductions of 90-95% are not uncommon.
- Structure & Culture
Implementation of cell based & PST structures along with multiple cultures to deal with aptitude and attitude. Both autonomy and mastery can be enabled by these forms of structure and they avoid the silos and inertia created by traditional structures.
- Optimising Flow
Risk, performance, information and financial flow can be analysed and improved through mapping. This is necessary for increasing margin, removing friction and increasing speed.
- Channel Conflict
Exploiting new channels and conflict within existing channels to create favourable terms.
These forms are about influencing the end user view of the world.
Overcoming user inertia to a change through education. There are 16 different forms of inertia and many can be overcome directly with education. Don't underestimate this.
Hiding a disadvantageous change by bundling the change with other needs.
- Creating artificial needs
Creating and elevating an artificial need through marketing and behavioural influence. Take a rock and make it a pet etc.
- Confusion of Choice
Preventing users from making rational decisions by overwhelming them with choice.
Creating fear, uncertainty and doubt over a change in order to slow it down.
- Artificial competition
Creating two competing bodies to become the focus of competition and in effect driving oxygen out of a market.
Persuading Government of a favourable position.
These enable you to accelerate the process of evolution.
- Market Enablement
Encouraging the development of competition in a market
- Open Approaches
Encouraging competition through open source, open data, open APIs, open processes by removing barriers to adoption and encouraging a focus for competition.
- Exploiting Network Effects
Techniques which increases the marginal value of something with increased number of users.
Working with others. Sounds easy, actually it's not.
- Industrial Policy
Government investment in a field.
These enable you to slow down the process of evolution
- Exploiting existing constraints
Finding a constraint and reinforcing it through supply or demand manipulation.
- Patents & IPR
Preventing competitors from developing a space including ring fencing a competitor.
- Creating constraints
Supply chain manipulation with a view of creating a new constraint where none existed.
- Limitation of competition
Through regulatory or other means including erecting barriers to prevent or limit competitors.
Dealing with toxicity
Elements of your value chain will be irrelevant with evolution over time, there's numerous ways of dealing with this especially as the inertia created can become toxic.
- Disposal of liability
Overcoming the internal inertia to disposal. Your own organisation is likely to fight you even when you're trying to get rid of the toxic.
- Sweat & Dump
Exploiting a 3rd party to take over operating the toxic asset whilst you prepare to remove yourself.
- Pig in a poke
Creating a situation where others believe the toxic asset has long term value and disposing of it through sale before the toxicity reveals itself.
Standard ways of playing in the market
Creating a visible difference through user needs.
- Pricing policy
Exploiting supply and demand effects including price elasticity, Jevons paradox and constraints including fragmentation plays.
- Exploiting buyer / supplier power
Creating a position of strength for yourself.
Allowing others to develop upon your offerings and harvesting those that are successful. Techniques for ensuring harvesting creates positive signals rather than creating an environment others avoid.
- Standards game
Driving a market to a standard to create a cost of transition for others or remove the ability of others to differentiate.
- Signal distortion
Exploiting commonly used signals in the market by manipulation of analysts to create a perception of change.
Standard ways of protecting your market position
- Threat acquisition
Buying up those companies that may threaten your market.
- Raising barriers to entry
Increasing expectations within a market for a range of user needs to be met in order to prevent others entering the market.
Do nothing and allowing competition to drive a system to a more evolved form.
- Defensive regulation
Using Government's to create protection for your market and slow down competitors.
Standard ways of attacking a market change
- Directed investment
VC approach to a specific or identified future change.
Use of specialists groups, hackdays and other mechanisms of experimentation.
- Creating centres of gravity
Creating a focus of talent to encourage a market focus on your organisation.
- Undermining barriers to entry
Identifying a barrier to entry into a market and reducing it to encourage competition.
- Fool's mate
Using a constraint to force industrialisation of a higher order system.
Using others to help achieve your goals.
Working with other companies to drive evolution of a specific activity, practice or data set.
Working with end users to drive evolution of a specific activity, practice or data set.
- Sensing Engines (ILC)
Using consumption data to detect future success.
- Tower and Moat
Dominating a future position and prevent future competitors from creating any differential.
- Two factor
Bringing together consumers and producers and exploiting the relationship between them.
Copying competitors move and undermining any ecosystem advantage by interrupting data flows.
- Embrace & Extend
Capturing an existing ecosystem.
Dealing with the opposition if you can't work with them
- Tech Drops
Creating a 'follow me' situation and dropping large technology changes onto the market.
Exploiting pricing effects, constraints and co-opting to fragment a competitor's market.
- Reinforcing inertia
Identifying inertia within a competitor and forcing market changes that reinforce this.
Opening up multiple fronts on a competitor to weaken their ability to react.
Sending false signals to competitors or future competitors including investment focused on the wrong direction.
Limiting a competitors ability to adapt.
- Talent Raid
Removing core talent from a competitor either directly or indirectly.
General forms of playing with the future market
- Land grab
Identifying and position a company to capture a future market space.
- First mover
Exploiting first mover advantage especially with industrialisation to component services.
- Fast follower
Exploiting fast follower advantage into uncharted spaces.
- Weak Signal
Use of common economic patterns to identify where and when to attack.
General forms of preventing others playing with the future market. If you can't capture then poison it.
Use of licensing to prevent future competitor moves.
Either through talent or misdirection, encouraging false moves in a competitor.
- Design to fail
Removing potential future threats by poisoning a market space before anyone attempts to establish it.
As mentioned above, the techniques are normally used in combination plays e.g. you might be a first mover to industrialise a specific component and use this to establish an ILC type ecosystem whilst exploiting competitors' inertia and misdirecting any would be threats.
These are not the full list of plays but the ones that I think it's reasonable I can cover over a period of one year. There are some other plays but I'll leave that to a future date.
Again, I cannot emphasise the importance of situational awareness before using some of these plays. It is trivially easy to create a disaster e.g. being a first mover to try and build an ILC ecosystem around a relatively novel activity and harvesting aggressively. This will just end up destroying your ability to create an ecosystem leaving you with a bad reputation in a field which might at a later date become suitable for the same sort of play. Some of the plays are also downright evil, so be warned. Understand the environment, learn to play the game and build with experience.