Edit ModuleShow Tags

Crossing the T: Battleship strategy for business

Here are two lessons for company leaders from this military maneuver


Before 150 years ago, naval warfare looked like two columns of ships (imagine an 11) blasting away at each other’s broadside with uniform damage and loss incurred on each side — like two equal-sized drunks in a bar brawl. Lots of carnage, and the one with the most ships or the most guns per ship likely won.

Whether by luck or design, fleets eventually employed a maneuver in which one would “cross the T” or meet the approaching vertical column by crossing in front of it (see the diagram).

Crossing the T

Here’s why this was effective. The fleet in the vertical line has a problem. Only the first ship can shoot freely at the enemy. The others are just going to blow up their mates. The fleet that has “crossed,” however, can fire all weapons at Ship 1 then 2 then 3, etc. It has at least six times the firepower.

I can draw two business lessons from this military strategy. Perhaps you’ll have more.

First, organizations that keep tight control on mahogany row are like the ships in the vertical line. All the firepower resides with the top. Organizations that allow all their assets to engage in their business through collaboration, effective delegation and autonomy have much more firepower than the one that requires action of approval from the top.

Second, I’ve frequently worked with companies that wanted to move from a product-driven to a market-driven strategy. For instance, one of my clients addressed a specific market with a specific product. So did all the competition. Like naval warfare from 150 years ago, they lined up and shot lead at each other, and the one with the biggest marketing budget won.

Through asking the right questions, my client realized that it could better address this market’s needs with different products and services with multiple price points and value. It crossed the T by switching from “Want to buy a widget?” to “Let me better understand your needs and offer several solutions to meet them.” More artillery firing on the target.

How can you cross the T in your market?

Edit Module

Get more content like this: Subscribe to the magazine | Sign up for our Free e-newsletter

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Articles

Five Colorado Cities Among Best Places to Own a Vacation Home

Bloomberg recently did a study to determine the best places in the United States to own a vacation home. Colorado had the most of any state with five of the top 15 spots.

Pilot Program

Boeing publishes 20-year outlooks on the pilot workforce based on aircraft orders and projections; the 2018 report says 90,000 to 120,000 new pilots will be needed in North America by 2038. The scarcity can’t be solved with mere want ads.

Preventing #MeToo in the Workplace

The list of wealthy, powerful and prominent people who have been accused of sexual misconduct in the workplace continues to grow as the #MeToo movement resonates with alleged victims who are increasingly empowered to come forward. But allegations of misconduct are not limited to the Hollywood or business elite.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags