Sunday, April 10, 2016

Doctrine, Climate and Context Specific gameplay

One of the main advantages of mapping a competitive environment (for a basic introduction, read this) is it provides a mechanism of not only communication but learning. What you quickly discover is there a basic economic patterns and competitor actions which influence your environment (the Climate), there are universal approaches applicable to all (the Doctrine) and then there's context specific forms of Gameplay.

The context specific forms of gameplay are like pincer movements or Fool's mate in chess. They are applicable in only specific contexts unlike doctrine which is universal. Part of the problem with not mapping out the environment is that without a reasonable level of situational awareness then people simply copy others ... "we should do what Uber is doing!"

Alas, without that understanding of landscape then you've no idea whether the meme you're copying is universal or context specific. Hence my joke at OSCON last year on "Surge pricing for funeral parlours!"

The problem is the amount of context specific play vastly exceeds universal doctrine and so it's highly likely that if you simply copy another company then you'll be applying something to the wrong context. The mishmash of universal doctrine and context specific play is often best found in management consultant 2x2s, particular that most ridiculous of forms - the SWOT diagram.

To give some examples, well that would be a rather long post, so I'll keep it short and fill in further posts later. I'll start by just giving three tables with examples of climate (economic patterns), doctrine (universal) and gameplay (context specific) with a reminder that you are operating in the "strategy cycle". These are far from an exhaustive list, this is just a taster.

Strategy Cycle

Climate (economic and competitor patterns)

Doctrine (universally applicable regardless of value chain and context)

Gameplay (context specific mechanisms, not universally applicable, choices have to be made)