Google and Sun-Tzu - It's All About Strategy

In Sun Tzu's always re-readable The Art of War, he says, "Keep your friends close but your enemies closer."

He's right - because the more you know about your enemy, the easier it is to win.  The more you learn from them and what they're doing, the more you can create tactics that counter their moves - usually before they make them.

It is exactly that thinking which is at the core of Google CEO Eric Schmidt's most recent comments at the Google Zeitgeist conference last week.

At that conference, Schmidt talked about the conflicts and rivalries that have arisen between Google and, oh, pretty much every other company in the technology space - pretty much no matter how you define it. And he put his finger on exactly why when he said, "This is winning.  If we were losing, we would not have these problems."

But in looking deeper into his comments, what you see is that as innovative as Google is, part of its success comes from building off of what others have developed.

Google didn't invent the smartphone - but the Android platform has given them what they need to get into that market.

Google didn't invent social networking - but the false starts and upcoming add-ons that they're discussing are designed to create a platform for them as an alternative to Twitter, FourSquare, Facebook and others.

Because what Google wants is advertising revenues.  They want your eyes on what they have to offer - ostensibly through their services, but actually pointing you toward the way that they make their revenues.  And that doesn't come from Android (which is free) or their social networking (which will also be free).  It comes from advertising.

That, too, is the logic of Google Instant - their new "thinking for their customers" search add-on that points you toward where they think you want to go.  Whether you do or not.  (Check out the video below.)

(Full disclosure:  This blog is powered by Google's Blogger, so I'm biting the hand that feeds me, if you get my drift.)

So, what's the take-away on this?  What's your WIIFM?

1.  Be excrutiatingly clear about what the goals, direction and strategy are for your organization.  Know exactly which markets you want to be in, to what extent and why.  Then, know what the customers who shop that market - B2B or B2C - are looking for.

Which will get you directly to...

2.  Keep closer than close watch on what companies in that space are doing.  Learn from your enemies.  See their products and services for the trajectories they offer to their customers - because they're your customers too.

Because then you can...

3.  Quickly and consistently, build your own products and services that compete in that space using what you have to offer to get those customers to direct their money into your organization's offerings.  You don't have to invent it.  You just have to find a way to ensure that what you're taking from your direct and indirect competitors will point the people and businesses you need in your direction.

It's fast, easy and cheap - because, if you follow Sun Tzu's advice, you're letting others do the hard work for you.  Then it's you - and your customers - who are benefitting.