Business Planning refers to the applications, processes, and technologies involved in the planning of functions in a business to improve organizational synergies and optimized financial performance (Whitehair, 1996). War planning refers to the strategizing required before military action is put forth. Sun Tzu wrote the Art of War (Clavel, 1983) one of the oldest texts on war. Since it was translated by French Jesuit Jean Joseph Marie Amiot the text has influenced western generals including Napoleon (Griffith n.d.). Aside from military applications the Art of War has since been applied to business and management strategies (Floyed, 1992) (Lee et al, 1992) This paper will compare and contrast the strategies of war planning and business planning. It shall do this by comparing the internal or micro and the macro or external environmental factors and forces which are considered important for the success of planning in both business and war. It will also cover important management concepts along the way.
The truth behind management
Management is the art of getting things done through other people (Robbins 2003). Management is to make decisions, allocate resources, and directing the activities of other people with the purpose of attaining specified goals. Goals can be the completion of a task, success in competition, and of course, profit.
Managers have to duty to perform four tasks which are: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. As an organization exists to perform goals, a manager has to define those goals and the means with which they can be achieved. The planning function is that which encompasses the definition of organizational goals, and the development of a comprehensive strategy to plan and integrate the organization’s activities.
Managers are also responsible for designing an organization’s structure. Therefore he is that what that determines what tasks shall be done. He also determines who shall do them and which groups will be assigned to do them, finally whom reports shall be made to and who shall make decisions.
Every organization contains people, as such a manager must coordinate and direct his people. This task is known as leading. Restated this is when managers motivate employees, direct the activities of others, select the most effective communication channels, or resolve conflicts among members, they are engaged in leadership.
Finally, managers also control. This is to ensure that all things are occurring as they should.
It is management’s duty to monitor an organization’s performance metrics. The actual performance of a company must still be compared to the originally set goals. Should there be any serious deviation from the set goals, management must do its utmost in order to get the organization back on track. Controlling is also said to be the monitoring, comparing, and if necessary the correcting of the organization to adhere to original goals. The management environment is the high-level view of the organization and how it interacts between management and rank and file.
With respect to business planning, the functions of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling are done from the relative safety and comfort of the company office. In such a setting rational thought is somewhat easier as the greatest risk is to the bottom line. Granted that careers are at stake, rarely are lives at risk in a business setting. Leadership is valuable because the company would be rudderless without a good leader who can control his subordinates.
By comparison in war planning, safety is a rare commodity. Once hostilities are started lives are at stake. Even before hostilities begin, a general must look to the welfare of his men. Opportunities are measured by how much enemy territory or how many enemy troops can be neutralized and for how little loss of life. Control is even less palpable as subordinates are affected by the stress of combat. Armies must be well organized at the start because organization fades away in the ebb of warfare.
In the context of our missionary work leadership is important because of the general hardship endured by both the missionaries and those whom we minister to. Our organization must be well organized and planned out at the start because as we spread out to do our work it is important that we are all on the same level and stick to the same present plans.
Value Judgments of Managers, Determinants of Ethical standards and practices
Every day a manager must give value judgments. These judgments are heavily influenced by the manager’s background and the vision-mission of the company. For example, how they chose their employees is itself a value judgment because they use internal criteria to determine the fitness of an applicant to the firm. The ethical standards and practices are also determined by company norms. However, standards are also affected by the norms of other businesses similarly situated.
In business value judgments by managers are affected by their personal values and those of the company. As a company is usually motivated by profit he will make moves with a view towards maximizing the profit of the company. Business ethics is usually dictated by national law with respect to what a company can do and what it can not do.
While in the military there is usually little room to make value judgments with respect to people. A very strict code of conduct is followed by soldiers. Furthermore, the ethical standard followed by soldiers is broadly governed by the Geneva Conventions. Thus, the ethics of soldiers is very strictly monitored. After all once war planning is done and fighting starts soldiers have the power of life and death over the people they interact with.
Definition of nature and purpose of planning
Planning is a process that includes defining goals, establishing strategy, and developing plans to coordinate those activities (Robbins, 1993). Planning is best expressed by a graph where status is the Y-Axis and time is the X-axis and a line is drawn between where the organization is and where it wants to be. The gap or distance between the two is the amount of planning required. Naturally, a company wants its status to improve. Hence the line will have an upward slope.
The importance of planning is best appreciated by an organization that has clearly defined objectives and a reasonable expectation of how to achieve them. Planning covers the kind of organization structure as it is helpful to know, the kind of people needed as this affects the direction to be taken, how to effectively lead people to assure success, and finally, the standards of control needed. Additional factors that management must consider during planning are; the difficulty of accurate premising, problems with rapid change, internal inflexibility, external inflexibility, and time and cost factors.
In order for planning to be effective, the overall plan must be consistent, linked to long-term objectives, and feasible. It must also be flexible, as simple as possible, and have a clear-cut direction for action. Otherwise, an organization will just flounder rudderless.
In business planning is important but the plan must be flexible in the context of everyday events. For instance, a good plan may seem excellent at the time but may not be appropriate if the facts on the ground change. For example, at the height of the sub-prime lending phenomenon, it might have been a good idea to loan to people who had substandard credit. The sub-prime crash ended that. A business model designed around sub-prime lending be highly profitable pre-crash but is now completely worthless. But if a company was able to react quickly enough it might be able to save itself from the possibility of destructive losses. The ability to plan clearly but have the flexibility to react to a situation in the best possible way is of paramount importance.
In war planning, the idea is to plan the best possible way to minimize losses and maximize gains. The nature of planning in this context is to make sure that all possible information is taken into consideration in order to make the best possible plan of action. Planning, in this case, should be done as far in advance as possible because once military action begins there will be very little opportunity to take back plans and rewrite them. All that can be done is to react to the changing context.
As missionaries, the planning stage is very important as well. It is hard to renew instructions once people are actually fielded unless they are told to return back to headquarters. Thus it would be best to have all necessary planning done and settled before we are sent out to do missionary work. After all, considering the effort needed for our missionaries to be sent out it is only fitting that they receive a clear picture of what is expected of them and how they should act once they are deployed
Evaluate factors that influence organizational behavior and culture
Organizational behavior is the study and application of knowledge about how people, individuals, and groups act in organizations (Cunningham, J. B. & Eberle, T. 1990 p.57). Organizational behavior is about the interpretation of relationships between people and organizations with respect to the whole person, whole group or organization, or even the whole social system (Cunningham, J. B. Eberle, T. 1990 p.57). Its purpose is to build better relationships by achieving human objectives, organizational objectives, and social objectives (Cunningham, J. B. Eberle, T. 1990 p.58).
Organizational Culture is the personality of the organization (Schein 1968 p.1). An organization’s culture is comprised of the organization’s values, norms, and tangible signs of the behavior of its members. The culture of an organization is difficult to quantify precisely, and yet anyone in an organization can easily identify that it exists. You can tell the culture of an organization by looking at the arrangement of furniture, what they brag about, what members wear, etc. — similar to what you can use to get a feeling about someone’s personality (Schein 1968 p.3).
The factors that influence organizational culture and behavior are the setting of the organization, the context, and the individuals in the organization itself. Depending on what kind of business a company is engaged in the organization and context may change and this will have an impact on how the personnel is affected by this. In a military organization protocol and discipline are paramount hence
Asses various forms of organizational structure
Organizational Structure is defined as how job tasks are formally divided, grouped, and coordinated (Robbins, 2003). It is held that there are six key elements that managers need to know when they design their organizational structure; these six are work specialization, departmentalization, a chain of command, a span of control, centralization, and decentralization, and formalization (Gitlow, 2001). The term work specialization particularly refers to the way an organization subdivides itself into separate functions. For example, in an auto manufacturing facility how one part of the plant assembles the body while another attaches the wheels (Robbins, 2003). Departmentalization refers to the basis by which jobs are groups together (Robbins, 2003). The most common method of departmentalization is grouping by function. The chain of command in management is that invisible line or chain of authority that flows from the top of an organization and trickles down to the lowest section. The emphasis of the chain of command is who reports to who and who gives orders to who. The most easily understood form of a chain of command is found in the military where lower-ranking officers report to higher-ranking officers. Centralization is the measure of how concentrated decision-making is focused at a central point of the organization.
A highly centralized organization may lead to bottlenecks if decision-making at the upper echelons is slow while a highly decentralized organization may risk being inefficient as multiple sections will try to perform the same task. Formalization refers to the level of the assigned tasks in an organization that are standardized. These six factors are used to determine the efficacy of organization structures.
The Simple Structure, a structure defined by a low degree of departmentalization, wide spans of control, centralized authority, and low levels of formalization it is not elaborated (Karlgaard, 1993). It is otherwise known as a flat organization. In fact, a simple structure is best characterized by what it is not instead of what it is. This form of structure is most common in very small or very new organizations. For example in a used car, the owner and manager may very well be the same person. Directly answerable to him via a chain of command may be his mechanic, his secretary, his custodian, and of course his salespeople. There may be low levels of formalization as the salespeople might also work as mechanics or custodians. Decisions would be highly centralized especially when it comes to what models of cars to purchase and for how much, ultimately, to sell it for. This form of structure would be very effective in small organizations where the manager is still able to observe all those who are under him. It will be ineffective in large organizations where the number of employees and or tasks being performed might be too numerous for a single manager to control. The common threshold of simple structure is at 50-100 employees beyond that, more complex structures need to be employed.
Bureaucracy is a structure that functions via rules, regulations, and standardized work practice. Tasks are very formalized and people are grouped into functional departments. When authority is highly centralized there exists very narrow spans of control. Decision-making must adhere to a strict chain of command. Bureaucracy is best for organizations that deal with repetitive transactions such as insurance or consumer banking. The main strength of Bureaucracy is that it allows companies to perform standardized activities in a highly efficient manner. There are economies of scale and minimum duplication of tasks. However, Bureaucracy also creates subunit conflicts because functional unit goals sometimes conflict with the overall goals of the organization. It also creates bottlenecks when centralized authority is slow to update procedures to deal with new events.
The Matrix Structure creates dual lines of authority and combines functional and product departmentalization (Robbins, 2003). It is used by advertising agencies, hospitals, entertainment companies, and schools (Kirn, 1999). The main strength of this structure is that puts specialties together minimizing the necessary number while allowing the pooling of resources and the sharing of specialized resources across products. The main disadvantage is that coordinating tasks across diverse functional specialists may be difficult. The Matrix Structure breaks with the common concept of organizational structure because in this structure people report to two heads; a functional department manager and a product manager creating a dual chain of command.
The development of the Internet age is the virtual organization, also known as network or modular organization, a typically small, core organization that outsources its major business functions (Miles and Snow, 1995). Virtual organizations typically seek maximum efficiency. By outsourcing back-office work such as accounting, logistics, and customer service, and even manufacturing a company such as Guthy-Renker can have nationwide distribution for its products while having only a very small core organization that focuses on marketing its products. At the same time, Movie and Television companies actually outsource scriptwriting, production, and editing. For both examples, the idea is that by relying on outsourced specialists the company saves on having the same specialists on the payroll and they can bank on the expertise of the same without having to develop them in-house.
Whenever practical businesses now prefer virtual organizations. This is because a virtual organization minimizes costs. For example, manufacturing can be outsourced to China where factory labor is cheap while customer support and back-office work can be sent to India where there are technical experts who can be hired for less than what they would cost in America. This is the current trend. Competitive advantage can be gained by lowering costs through outsourcing. Efficiency is also gained because the companies to which these businesses are outsourced are often better at specialized jobs than in-house counterparts can hope to be. Finally, a virtual organization also keeps the business total workforce small and minimizes the cost of government-mandated benefits which in-house departments would be entitled to.
In times of war, the military operates a strict chain of command that closely mimics both a bureaucracy and a simple organization. It is a simple organization because there is a clearly defined chain of command between superiors and subordinates. From the commanding general down to the lowliest corporal and sergeant, the chain of command flows smoothly down the line. At the same time, military organizations are like a bureaucracy because all the subordinate units operate as components of a greater whole in a very precise and specialized manner. There are numerous sub-groupings like logistics, intelligence, engineering among non-combat units just as there are many sub-groupings of combat units. As a bureaucracy-type organization, military organizations function with considerable economies of scale. Formations know their tasks and spend many hours perfecting them for the unfortunate day that their skills will be needed.
Our missions operate as a form of simple organization. This is because out in Malaysia the missions are simple organizations. There is no reason to burden them with complex bureaucracy or to further simplify them by outsourcing business processes. There are no processes to outsource anyway. Thus, the simple organization is the best organizational model for us.
Examine organizational communication and leadership
Communication is the transference and understanding of the meaning (Robbins, 2003.). In an organization, communication serves four major functions: Control, motivation, emotional expression, and information (Scot and Mitchell 1976). Communication is the important two-way street upon which an organization will sink or swim. If there are no effective lines of communication an organization has no hope but to flounder aimlessly even with brilliant planners because they are capable of communicating those plans effectively. Good communication skills are a prime mover in successful organizations because this allows the organization to move in a smooth and well-oiled manner.
In a business, organization communication is important if a company is to function well and hope to make money. If it has poor communication the business might not even be able to get off the ground. In order to establish good communication, a company should establish its protocols early on.
During War, timely communication is even more paramount. Soldiers in contact with the enemy must be able to report their situation in a clear and precise manner if they are to receive the proper support to defeat their enemy. Generals must be able to communicate their orders properly to their subordinates if they are to properly command a battle. In order to have a good communications line in the military soldiers often drill orders and practice so that if they need to fight they are ready to carry out orders and make their reports.
Our organization can pride itself on its good communications skills. Despite the numerous obstacles to good communications, we are able to communicate to all our missions with a minimum of interference. This is mainly thanks to the competence of our people and the advent of modern technology that breaks boundaries of space and time when we need it to.
Leadership is the ability to influence a group of people to achieve a goal (Robbins, 2003). In a nutshell, leadership involves using charisma, reasoning, and action to get people to achieve a previously stated goal. There are many different kinds of leaders. There are charismatic leaders like Joan of Arc who inspired the French to great feats of heroism via her example. There are servant leaders like Mother Theresa of Calcutta who spent her entire life serving the untouchables of India and giving them a decent death. There are quiet leaders like U.S. Grant who led the Union to victory against the Confederacy.
In both business and war leaders are of transcendental importance. Without good leaders, an organization would be listless and without direction. All people, no matter who they are, look to leaders for directions. People need to be inspired to do great things. Good leaders inspire their people to perform well. Our organization is blessed with good leaders. Hence it is no wonder that our organization performs well.
In conclusion, planning for both war and business is closely related. Leadership, organization skills, and structure for both are markedly similar. The only real difference between an Army and a Business is that failure in business results in lost money and perhaps a failure of careers, in the military failure is death. Management principles can be applied to military planning just as the Art of War can be applied in business.
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