Fire and Motion Revisited

March 15, 2012 · 0 comments

in CTO,Productivity,Strategy

As I’ve been encouraging you to give serious consideration to a mobile software strategy for your business, I realized I may have unintentionally overwhelmed you. Taking on a new challenge outside of your core strengths may be the last thing you either need or want to do just now, but I recently ran across something that may help put things in perspective.

Ten years ago, well-known software business owner Joel Splosky wrote a great piece about productivity in his work life called “Fire and Motion“.  Says Joel:

When I was an Israeli paratrooper a general stopped by to give us a little speech about strategy. In infantry battles, he told us, there is only one strategy: Fire and Motion. You move towards the enemy while firing your weapon. The firing forces him to keep his head down so he can’t fire at you. (That’s what the soldiers mean when they shout “cover me.” It means, “fire at our enemy so he has to duck and can’t fire at me while I run across this street, here.” It works.)  The motion allows you to conquer territory and get closer to your enemy, where your shots are much more likely to hit their target. If you’re not moving, the enemy gets to decide what happens, which is not a good thing. If you’re not firing, the enemy will fire at you, pinning you down.

The message for us in the context of a mobile software strategy is two-fold:

  1. If you’re not moving, your competition gets to decide what happens. Mobile is the key technology trend affecting business for the foreseeable future. Deciding not to have an app strategy, or to simply ignore the move to mobile, is akin to “not firing” in Joel’s story. The competition will be firing at you sooner or later. Why not take the initiative and pin him down instead?
  2.  Building and executing any strategy takes time, but even just a little bit of intentional forward motion every day will get you there. To gain ground, you need to be regularly “firing at the problem” and moving forward rather than hunkering down in the tyranny of the day-to-day urgent. What one small thing can you do today to move your app strategy forward? Just taking an hour of solid thinking time and writing down your thoughts and some action items is a great start.

Last week saw Apple effectively using the Fire and Motion technique, as “The New iPad” became the latest round of fire thrown down at the would-be competitors in the media-tablet space. Apple continues to gain ground, while keeping the rest of the industry on its heels playing defense. This is a model of success we can emmulate in our own businesses by building a plan to innovate with software.

How are you planning to use mobile software in your business?  If you’d like some feedback on your ideas, please leave a comment, or  I’d be glad to chat with you.

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