‘Treat business like war’ to avoid insolvency

'Treat business like war' to avoid insolvency

Businessmen who hope to avoid the need to use the services of insolvency practitioners might be wise to treat the running of their company as if it was armed conflict.

According to former Defence Academy of the UK director general Lieutenant General Andrew Graham, the same strategies can often apply in industry as do in most theatres of war.

He told the Cambridge Judge Business School podcast: "I think [combat analogies] apply most particularly because you have to look at the circumstances in which businesses, politics, non-governmental organisations and other organisations are having to conduct themselves on a fast-changing global world where uncertainty, surprise and change make life particularly challenging for businesses, we're seeing that all the time."

The former officer noted that war is a very "challenging" and "adversarial" experience, which is "full of surprises" with high stakes.

"I thought if that was the crucible of testing character and command and leadership and management then maybe there are some things that could read across into the business world," Lieutenant General Graham suggested.

While businessmen might not be attempting to kill or capture each other, they still try to gain ground and operate in some tough conditions that challenge their leadership skills.

"Decision making, relationships, multi-faceted organisations and so on are going to be a factor and there seem to be some parallels," the armed services expert added.

He noted that those who create an environment for business and education to flourish could be seen as the defence forces, while those who work on behalf of the government, private businesses making money and charity workers act like the security and intelligence bodies in war.

"There is an inter-relationship between the two and if you were stabilising a country you would do the one in order to allow the conditions for the others to thrive, you can't separate the two," the ex-soldier noted.

As such, firms might be wise to adopt some of the strategies of conflict in order to avoid the need for insolvency advice – perhaps a reason why so many business schools have Sun Tzu's The Art of War on their reading lists.

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