Monday, February 24, 2014

Zachary Shore on getting a sense of the enemy

My Q&A with professor Zach Shore for strategy+business was published today:

Zachary Shore on How to Predict the Future
A historian’s approach to strategic empathy can help you anticipate your rivals’ next moves.

If Komatsu decides to cut prices in a bid to grow its market share, will Caterpillar match the cuts? If Amazon makes a full-out run at the grocery business, will Kroger compete online? If Google refuses to censor Internet searches, will China’s government deny its citizens access to the search engine? Predicting the actions and reactions of competitors—and other stakeholders—is often an essential element in executive decision making, and getting those predictions wrong can have costly consequences.

Historian Zachary Shore believes leaders in all spheres can reduce decision risks and improve the accuracy of their predictions by developing a skill that he calls strategic empathy. In his fourth and latest book, A Sense of the Enemy: The High Stakes History of Reading Your Rival’s Mind (Oxford University Press, 2014), the professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, a research university operated by the U.S. Navy in Monterey, Calif., offers a new perspective on predicting the behavior of others. Shore discussed his findings and their applications with strategy+business.

S+B: What is strategic empathy, and why does it matter?
SHORE: Strategic empathy is the ability to step out of our own heads and into the minds of others. It’s the ability to discern someone else’s underlying drivers and constraints—to understand what makes someone tick.

The idea behind strategic empathy has been around for a long time in the military and politics. Two thousand years ago, Sun Tzu wrote about the importance of thinking like the enemy. What we don’t have is a reliable way of doing it... read the rest here

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