Monday, June 23, 2008
Business as a "Chess Game"
This is an interesting article. Gerald "Genghis" Cone is phoney, as is his corporation. But the sentiments of the writer of this piece - are they really his sentiments? Is he being cynical and ironic? Does he really believe this is what a CEO thinks like? Article is from the Arizona Republic online A king's view of business as chess game Dale DautenKing Features Syndicate Jun. 23, 2008 12:00 AM Today we have a special guest commentary from Gerald "Genghis" Cone, CEO here where I work, Mundane Industries, offering his latest thoughts on leadership. Running a corporation is like playing chess. Not that I play chess, but my decorator put a teak and ivory chess set next to the fireplace in my office and it reminded me of my college days when I used to play with my roommate, who I'd feel sorry for because he thought being smart would make him successful. Dauten tells me there are several business books with a chess theme, but I only read business books by people whose companies are bigger than mine, so I haven't read any of them. And I don't want any niggling from you chess nerds, either, unless you make more than I do. OK. Chess. I am, of course, the King, and the game revolves around protecting me and my wealth. As for the little people, the pawns, there are some execs who like to outsource everything including employees, but I think that's foolish. Why let some other company make money on your people? No, the shrewd corporate leader knows the beauty of having pawns who are "independent contractors." Many people misunderstand the meaning of that term, supposing that "independent" refers to the freedom of such people to do their jobs as they and their professional standards see fit. HA! No, the "independent" in "independent contractor" really stands for independent of power, independent of benefits and independent of job security. This makes them cheap and expendable, like having paid foreign mercenaries in your army - losing them doesn't really count. The perfect pawns, in other words. Next come the rooks. In my thinking, these are the people in Engineering and HR. They can move only in straight lines, but they can be useful in battle if you force them to get off their backsides (backlines) and make a difference. Then there are the knights. In my company, these would be the folks in New Products and R&D. If you give them the whip, they can surprise you by leaping ahead, going off at an angle. I like to send them out ahead to do battle, and if they fail, well, they're failures and thus, good riddance. Next are the bishops, representing the company's "religion," which is how I think of both our Strategy and Marketing departments. But it's important for every King to remember the example of Henry V and feel free to get a new religion. After all, who better to blame than Strategy or Marketing? That leaves only the queen of the chessboard, and for me, that's Sales. They dash about the country, taking on the enemy and winning the big battles. That's the one piece you can't afford to lose. But when it comes to business, you can never let the queen know she's the queen. Let those egomaniacs in Sales start to believe they own the customers and before you know it, they own you. And that's where the real chess game of business comes in. The real challenge in business is picking the right opponent. In chess, you do battle and you and your opponent are both going to lose most of your pieces. In business, you skip all the losing. You simply pay off the opponent's king and then he hands over all his pieces/assets to you.