Everyone understands the analogy of chess to life and to business. However, I believe it is important to consider each of the roles of the game pieces as the strategies of long-term planning and implementation are considered. As entrepreneur and avid chess player Bob Rice argues, “The more you look at the business world, the more you see that successful companies and the people who run them use chess strategies routinely—whether they know it or not.” Because chess is a game of strategy, business must rely on various strategies to “move them forward” in the game so that they can “win” by whatever method—checkmate, resignation or time-out. Gaining market share and momentum has similarities to chess as well.
Recognizing that experienced players—larger, more established organizations—often have the upper hand and are more powerful will be imperative as you or your business begins to consider market competition. Chess is not a game of luck—it is often that novices make more mistakes.
Another common chess theme is the concept of gaining market share. Chess experts say, “Never play for a 50 percent share. Playing for a draw is a fallback position.” Rice, who during his career leveraged a software play with the “king” of software—Microsoft—learned quickly that sometimes, “managers must do what chess players do—leverage something good into something unclear.” That strategy paid off for Rice, whose gamble turned into a lucrative business opportunity. Most important, however, is being mindful that a mistake can cost you the “game.”
Perhaps my favorite chess theme is that of the pawns, the least powerful pieces on the board. They can sometimes become the most powerful with persistence—meaning that the small ones occasionally win. We’ve seen it happen time after time—companies gaining competitive dominance and market share using strategy, persistence and perseverance. Rice likens pawns to employees who “can move mountains when their potential is unleashed.” And while the pawn may be considered the weakest piece on the board ... a single one often makes the difference between victory and defeat.
Enjoy this issue!