While I’m not suggesting that business relationships are open warfare – perhaps you may think differently? I would like to draw your attention to an anecdote from ancient history:

You may know that the Ancient Egyptians held the cat in very high regard. Bastet or Bast was worshipped as a giver of blessings to the good and a deliverer of wrath to the evil, and was also the protector of domestic, or household, cats. In her later cat-headed incarnation, she was the goddess of cats, protection, joy, dance, music, family, and love. All you ailurophiles out there are probably nodding in approval but, as you will see, this was turned to an enemy’s advantage.

The Assyrian army, seeking to wage war on the Egyptians, came up with a strategy that turned a strength (protection from a god) into a weakness. The armies were ranged against each other and prepared to engage. As the Assyrian army advanced, it was seen that every warrior in the front lines carried a large cat. The Egyptians were, therefore, unable to attack any of these men for fear of killing or injuring the cat!

Now I’m not sure how true this is – I came across a reference to the Persian army throwing cats into the fray for similar reasons, which is said to be unfounded, and another reference to an occasion when the Assyrian army was besieged by field mice who chewed up all their equipment, whilst leaving alone the equipment of the nearby Egyptian army – presumably because of the presence of their cats. So who knows?

The point is that we all have our strengths and weaknesses, our beliefs and our prejudices, and that’s just as true in business as anywhere else. When you’re planning business strategy, see if you can use the knowledge you have about your competitors and indeed your customers. What may seem to be a disadvantage can often be turned around to become an advantage.

And if you don’t know anything about your competitors and customers? Well here I turn to another military allusion – the old maxim…

‘Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted.’

Let me know how you’ve used this.