The 7th season of Game of Thrones just kicked off this past Sunday (in case you didn’t know – you probably saw a ton of Facebook posts about it).
The show has been based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice and Fire book series of books (which are really good if you get a chance – definitely read them). On top of HBO doing an outstanding job producing the show – on of the other reason it has become so popular is because of the various strategic approaches employed by the characters. And we will dive into just a few lessons from the show (not including this season – don’t want to give away anything if you haven’t started watching this season yet)….
Lesson 1: Think Outside The Box
When Tyrion was met with the challenge of preparing King’s Landing, the Capitol city, for a large invasion, he needed to come up with tactics that were unorthodox since they were vastly outnumbered. He decided not to send out the Lannister fleet and to instead use all available men to defend the city while he deployed wildfire to set the opposing fleet ablaze. In the North, Jon Snow challenged the norms by partnering with the wildlings and letting them through the wall. The Night’s Watch had been at war with the wildlings for thousands of years but it’s this outside the box thinking that will provide Jon with additional soldiers for the wars to come.
Transitioning that to Business – Always be on the lookout for non-traditional ways to outflank your competition. Smaller companies can get a jump start on larger ones in many areas due to their agility. Consider leveraging emerging channels such as SMS, web push, and mobile push to gain ample list sizes while larger companies are focusing on more traditional channels. Also leverage advanced tactics like multi-channel orchestration with marketing messages which can provide far greater lift than one-off campaign centric messaging. The more you take advantage of channels that are upcoming, the more likely you will be prepared when the next major market shift occurs.
Lesson 2: Plan Carefully and Be Patient When Necessary
Daenarys made her clear intention in the first episode that she wanted to return to Westeros. At the time, she had no army, little funds, and an older brother who wanted all the power for himself. Over the course of six seasons, she has amassed wealth, enormous multiple armies, a round table of strong advisors, and three large dragons. She did this by seizing opportunities when they presented themselves and growing her position slowly from the continent of Esos, far from her rivals. This distance worked to her advantage as many of her rivals perished from seasons one to six battling amongst themselves.
In business oftentimes roadmaps can be pushed aside due to lack of resources or higher priority initiatives from senior executives. Sometimes they are just lost in the shuffle of keeping the day-to-day operations in motion. One reason roadmaps tend to slide is that they are too aggressive and once some items slip, others follow. Another reason is lack of support by executives and failure to clearly highlight the resources needed to accomplish each task.
To build a successful roadmap, take the time to clearly call out organization’s strengths and weaknesses, recent market trends, the latest competitive landscape, and any key gaps that are barriers to success. Prioritize all of yoir initiatives based on their level of impact, as well as their ease of execution, and generate a roadmap that is aggressive but achievable. Make sure to check in regularly with the executive sponsors and you will be placed in a good position to succeed. While quick action can and will push you forward – slow and steady tends to almost always win…
Lesson #3: Play to Your Strengths
Despite having the most feared naval fleet in the show, the Greyjoys decided to focus all of their energy on futile land battles in the North. A curious plan given that the capitol of Westeros is vulnerable to a naval assault. Virtually all the Northern territory that they captured was retaken and they lost many of their best warriors in the process. By not playing to their strengths, the Greyjoys may have cost themselves the chance to rule the fictional world of Westeros.
In business I have noticed many organizations focus on mitigating their weaknesses instead of playing to their strengths. It’s important to remember the things that have made your organization successful in the first place. For retailers this may mean directing customer to shop in-store instead of online or promoting different value propositions that emphasize their unique benefits (look at what happened to Sears – that is a prime example). Identify the true strengths of your organization and augment them the best that you can in order to achieve competitive advantage. Before long, it may be your business that rules the Westeros of your vertical.
There you have it – just a few lessons from Game of Thrones. There a lot more – and would love to hear your thoughts and other lessons from the show. Feel free to comment and let’s talk.