What can lawyers learn from military strategy?

What can lawyers learn from military strategy?

Colonel Bob Stewart DSO was British Commander of UN forces in Bosnia. He arrived in the conflict armed with a typically resolute and decisive briefing from the Prime Minister, John Major: "Can you do the best job you can, Colonel Stewart?"

Stewart’s best was admirable – he had a clear sense of mission and an effective strategy for achieving it.

As soon as he landed, he asked himself three questions:

  • What needs to be achieved?
  • What tasks are crucial to that?
  • What resources/constraints apply?

He had the answers on paper (the first was, "to save lives") within four hours. It is interesting to contrast his speed of thought and action with the way many law firms approach these questions: forming committees, taking soundings, deliberating for months, before producing a paper the weight of a small hatchback, much of which is never referred to again. The road to professional hell is littered with discarded strategic plans.

The concept of business strategy derives from military strategy, and on this topic the leading US corporate consultant Roger L. Martin makes two insightful points:

  • First, the purpose of the typical process is to weave a comfort blanket and eliminate risk. It can be found in every kind of business and in all of them it

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