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How to use Business Battle Maps with Strategic Navigation

Henrik Mårtensson 8 July, 2009 Abstract This paper proposes that having a battlefield map is as important to business strategists and change agents as it is to military strategists and commanders. A network battle map is easy to make, and can help determine system boundaries, and serve as input for gap analysis. It is also a valuable presentation aid, and useful when looking for solutions to complex problems. This paper outlines how to use network battle maps with Strategic Navigation, a fast paced business strategy method combining Maneuver Conflict and The Logical Thinking Process from The Theory of constraints.

-2Contents 1. Why Use Business Battle Maps? 2. Battle Mapping with Strategic Navigation .. .. .. .. .. .. 3. Battle Maps and the OODA Decision Loop .. .. .. .. .. .. 4. Showing Pervasive Influences .. 5. Layered Battle Maps .. .. .. 6. Sub-maps .. .. .. .. .. .. 7. Battle Map on the Wall .. .. .. 8. Battle Maps and the 36 Stratagems .. .. .. .. .. .. 9. When Not to Use Battle Maps .. References .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 2 • 3 5 7 7 7 7 8 8 9 • Determine where you need to allocate your resources for maximum effect during execution. Visualize a desired future state. When doing a gap analysis it can be useful to visualize a desired future state in terms of power and lines of communication.A network battle map, even a simple one, provides a more accurate view than an organizational chart. cated in a disjointed manner, or simply forgotten until it is too late.

What should a battle map look like? For starters, what are the important entities, and what relationships should the battle map describe? And at what resolution? The entities you need to put on the map are the stakeholders in the strategic game. I will not go into how to identify stakeholders in this paper. Suffice to say that a change in part of an organization can have system wide repercussions. For example, introducing Agile software development methods like Scrum or eXtreme Programming, may be seen as death threat by the Project Manager Department, because these methods do not have or need project managers in the traditional sense. The way software development services are sold may have to change, because Agile methods can speed up development, and selling developers by the hour may no longer be a viable option. Five times faster development would mean one fifth the revenue… The effects of making changes to part of an organization are often quite predictable, and yet, the effort to understand the implications of a change is rarely made. Making a network battle map can make it easier to understand how the organization as a whole is affected by a local change. There are many kinds of interactions in

1. Why Use Business Battle Maps? Business strategy is a complex game with many players making concurrent moves. Many business strategy games are played like blind chess, with the players keeping the game board in their heads. Imagine the advantage you can get by making a simple map of the battlefield: It’s like being the only player with a chess board and pieces at a chess competition. A battle map is a kind of network diagram showing the field of battle. It depicts important entities on the business battlefield, and the relationships between them. A battle map makes it easier to do the following things: • Think through the relationships between different stakeholders in the system you want to change. This will help you come up with an overall strategic plan. Communicate important information about power and information structures that is otherwise likely to be communi-

-3Interpersonal Legitimate: Power derived from formal authority Reward: Power to reward behavior. (Often misused to reward results even if the results are not due to the behavior of the entity rewarded.) Coercive: Ability to punish. (Often misused to punish results even if the results are not due to the behavior of the entity punished.) Expert: Knowledge and skills that are irreplaceable, or difficult to replace. Referent: Personality, charisma.
Table 1. Types of Power

Positional/Situational Resource: Control over material flow, physical resources, or special access to information sources. Decision-making: Influence over decisions, or selection of which decisions are made.

Information: Control over or special access to knowledge or data by virtue of position.

an organization. Mapping them all is neither feasible, nor useful. What are the most relevant relationships to map? Usually, the most relevant relationships are relationships of power, including material flow. Table 1 on page 3 shows eight different types of power that may be important[2]. Of course, a map showing all power relationships would become too messy to read, and to unwieldy to update. The map should show only the most important relationships. It is necessary to have some way to filter data, so that the map does not become overloaded with information. Business strategy deals with organizations, which are complex systems, and interactions between the organization and customers, competitors, allies, and society. There are many, complex interactions, but relatively few degrees of freedom. As a result, there are usually only a few strategic leverage points. Given a method for locating leverage points, it would be possible to use this method to locate those areas of the battlefield where a detailed battle map will be most useful. The rest of the battle map can be left pret-

ty sketchy, until there is reason to focus on a new area of the strategic battlefield.. There are several methods for locating the leverage points in complex systems, but this paper will focus on The Logical Thinking Process (TLTP). TLTP can be used as a standalone toolset for solving complex problems, but it is also a part of the Strategic Navigation toolkit. 2. Battle Mapping with Strategic Navigation Strategic Navigation is a business strategy method created by William Dettmer[2]. The method is a powerful synthesis of John Boyd’s Maneuver Conflict[1][8][7] and William Dettmer’s The Logical Thinking Process1[4] (TLTP). Strategic Navigation also uses an extremely powerful method of gathering data and brainstorming, Crawford Slip[3]. TLTP is a powerful tool for solving complex problems, formulating strategy, and

An extended version of Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt’s Thinking Process.


Figure 1. Simple System Description with Areas of Control and Influence

seamlessly plan to execution level, i.e. making project plans. TLTP is based on Systems Thinking. An important question when using any Systems Thinking based method is: Where are the system boundaries? TLTP uses a simple method to answer the question. Basically, list the parts you can identify, then categorize them as being in your area of control, your area of influence, within the system, or external to the system. Strategic Navigation does not require you to draw a picture or mark the system boundary in a diagram. Depending on the situation, you could use lists, a table, draw closed curves on an organization chart, or use a network battle map as outlined in this paper. Figure 1 on page 4 is an example of what a simple drawing of the system boundaries might look like. Figure 2 on page 5 shows what an initial network battle map may look like. The map is drawn from the perspective of a Software Development Department manager. Note how I use color to highlight areas of control and influence. This makes it very clear where

there are holes in the map. In the example, the Project Manager Department is outside the sphere of influence drawn in the map. Such holes are quite common, and it is important to identify them. A system unit you cannot influence is a system unit you cannot align to the goal of the system. The map in Figure 2 on page 5 is organized around a value stream. Material flow is indicated with arrows twice as thick as other arrows. Other unlabeled links in the diagram represent legitimate power, that is, links representing formal authority. These links are not necessarily the most powerful, but they are common, and usually easy to find, for example by looking at an organization chart. The link arrows are pointed along the power flow. For example, “A has authority over B” is drawn as:

The initial input you use to create a battle


Figure 2. Initial Network Map with System Boundary and Areas of Influence and Control.

map is likely to include an organization chart, an interview with your sponsor, and, if you are very lucky, a reasonably accurate Value Stream Map (VSM). The initial information about interactions in the system is likely to concern material flow and legitimate authority. This is not likely to be the only important information, but it is enough to get started. 3. Battle Maps and the OODA Decision Loop Figure 3 on page 6 shows John Boyd’s famous OODA decision loop1, and how the

strategic planning and execution cycle in Strategic Navigation relates to the OODA Loop. Initially, the battle map is used to determine the system boundaries. Determining the system boundaries is a prerequisite for creating an Intermediate Objective Map (Step 1). The battle map then becomes one of the inputs for creating a Current Reality Tree (Step 2). The Current Reality Tree identifies leverage points that can be used to change the system to the desired state. Figure 4 on page 8 shows how the leverage points identified in the Current Reality Tree can be mapped back to the battle map. This shows which areas of the strategic bat-

The OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) decision loop has emerged as a central concept in strategic and tactical planning over the past few decades. The OODA loop concept is applicable to split second decisions, such as those made by a fighter pilot, as well as to tactics, operations planning, and strategy. It is a central concept in

Maneuver Conflict and Maneuver Warfare. The OODA Loop is also at the core of Strategic Navigation.


Figure 3. How Strategic Navigation Maps to the OODA Decision Loop

tlefield that should be investigated further. Depending on the situation, and the complexity of the existing battle map, either more information can be added to the existing map, or more detailed sub-maps may be added. See Section Sub-maps on page 7. The expanded battle map (or sub-map) is then used as input when generating ideas for solutions (Step 3), for operations planning

(Step 4), and for Mission (project) planning (Step 5). In the strategy evaluation phase (Step 7), the battle map is useful for evaluating success. Executing strategic plans often changes the shape of the battle map, so it is important to update the battle map before using it for evaluation. There may be new connections between the organization and customers.

-7New customer segments may have been identified. If there has been a reorganization, authority and communication links should have changed within the organization. Competitors may have been isolated from their allies, such as suppliers and distributors. There may be more or significantly stronger links with allies. 4. Showing Pervasive Influences Some entities have a pervasive influence on a system. For example, the CEO, an IT department or an accounting department may influence all other entities in an organization. Government regulations or public opinion may have a strong influence on an entire market. For example, environmental concerns has a strong influence on car design and manufacturing processes. Rather than representing such influences by drawing lines to all entities in the map, it is better to show the entity as freestanding, with an annotation showing the type and range of influence. (Not shown in this paper.) 5. Layered Battle Maps Most drawing programs support layers. This means you can put different types of information on different layers, and then elect to hide or show different kinds of information at different times. For example, in Figure 2 on page 5 it would be possible to create a layer for average waiting and process times for nodes in the value stream. In effect, this would turn part of the battle map into a Value Stream Map[6]. This would be useful for locating process bottlenecks. Because the battle map shows who controls and influences the process bottlenecks, it also provides guidance for where to investigate causes of bottlenecks, and may provide insights into how to resolve the problems. 6. Sub-maps An alternative to loading up a battle map with information is to use smaller sub-maps to map up smaller sections of the strategic landscape. A sub-map might, for example, map the most important individuals in a group and their relationships, or it might map the relationships in a part of a value stream. Figure 5 on page 9 shows how a section of the large scale battle map has been expanded using a sub-map. The map reveals why the Project Manager Department is outside the influence of the Software Development Department: The PM Department’s allegiance is to a powerful group of high level managers with an agenda different from that of the CEO. The sub-map also shows that the PM Department manager can be influenced from the bottom up, as he tends to give a high degree of weight to the opinions of at least one of his Project Managers. 7. Battle Map on the Wall Strategic Navigation advocates “strategy on the wall”, putting The Logical Thinking Process diagrams on a wall, so that everyone working with strategy development can see it1. A battle map also needs to be seen to be useful. The larger the map, the better, though making and printing the map in A3 format is sufficient for most purposes.

Ideally, the strategy wall should be where employees can easily see it, so they can see the work in progress and comment. Some things may have to be hidden in order to prevent leaks to competitors, or prematurely revealing information to customers. In general though, strategy development should engage as many people as possible in the company.


Figure 4. Current Reality Tree and Battle Map

I usually use A3 format for The Logical Thinking Process diagrams, and use the Toyota Production System A3 report format as much as possible. Thus, A3 format battle maps fit nicely with other documentation I produce. 8. Battle Maps and the 36 Stratagems The 36 Stratagems[5] is an an ancient Chinese collection of strategic patterns. The 36 Stratagems were developed for warfare, but they have also proven effective in business. The stratagems are useful as idea generators, and work well with Strategic Navigation and other business strategy methods. Idea generators do not work from scratch. They need input. A network battle map can be very useful in this regard, because a battle map provides an excellent overview of the current situation. If you use a battle map as input to 36 Stratagems idea generation, you may wish to experiment with using an annotation layer in your battle map drawing. Use the annotations to provide important input for idea genera-

tion, and suggestions for which stratagems to use. 9. When Not to Use Battle Maps Creating a battle map takes a bit of effort. Thus, the effort spent must be weighed against the benefit of having the map. A battle map can be very useful when you try to understand a system. On the other hand, if the system under consideration is simple, or well known to everyone involved in strategic planning, you may not need one. One thing you should consider is whether having a battle map means you can skip something else. Can you skip making a slideshow presentation? Or would a battle map enhance the presentation if it was included? Remember that a battle map can be very simple and still useful. You may find that drawing maps in your notebook, or on a whiteboard, is the best solution in many situations. References


Figure 5. Sub-map

[1] Col. John Boyd, U.S. Air Force. A Discourse On Winning and Losing. Also known as The Green Book. Defense and the National Interest, address. URL

[2] H. William Dettmer. Strategic Navigation: A Systems Approach to Business Strategy. Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 1st ed., 2007. [3] H. William Dettmer. Brainpower Networking Using the Crawford Slip

- 10 Method. Trafford Publishing, Suite 6E, 2333 Government St., Victoria, B.C. V8T 4P4, CANADA. 1st, 2003. [4] H. William Dettmer. The Logical Thinking Process: A Systems Approach to Logical Problem Solving. Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 1st ed., 2007. [5] Kaihan Krippendorff. Hide a Dagger Behind a Smile: Use the 36 Ancient Chinese Strategies to seize the Competitive Edge. Adam’s Media, Adam’s Media, 57 Littlefield Street, Avon, MA 02322. U.S.A.. 1st, 2008. [6] Jeffrey K. Liker. The Toyota Way. title. McGraw-Hill, Two Penn Plaza, New York. 1st ed., 2004. [7] Frans P.B. Osinga. Science, Strategy and War. Routledge, 270 Madison Ave., New York NY 10016. 1st ed., 2007. [8] Chet Richards. Certain to Win. Xlibris Corporation, address. 1st ed., 2004.