“Never fight the same enemy for too long, for they will go accustomed to your tactics”, is a famous line from Carl von Clausewitz’s book: On War. There are two reasons for why you do not want to fight the same enemy to long. In the business world, having a long term enemy where you know all their tactics and moves can be the worst thing for your business.
I have been following Syria’s civil war since it began back in 2011-12, and with anyone else who follows the war, there are two very clear things: The Syrian Army lacks basic offensive and defensive tactics and the varies rebel groups have zero tactics. The Syrian military has been on a decline for decades now. They most able commanders died a long time ago. That is why I was not surprised when the territories around Idlib feel to opposing groups.
Following the death of Saudi King Abdullah in January 2015, a new policy was formed by those countries opposing Assad was formed. The new policy called for arming the many rebel groups with anti-tank weapons such as the TOW missile. After receipt of these new weapons, groups such as Ahrar ash-Sham and al-Nusra formed a joint offensive against Bashar’s forces in Idlib. This is where the Syrian military faced its biggest defeat so far in the war.
The anti-tank missiles ruined units guarding Idlib. The Syrian Army was so used to having rebel groups lightly armed that they never bothered to protect their tanks. Tank units would expose themselves in the open as they knew the rebels could not do anything. That is where they made their mistake. After years of fighting, armored units had changed their tactics to a point that once their enemy had anti tank weapons that would be toast. Commanders got sloppy and no one hide behind obstacles or barriers. Tanks would be left in the open all day and night. So when groups like al-Nursa attacked with TOW missiles, it was a slaughter for the Syrian forces. Never in the war did they suffer such large losses in personal and territory.
It struck me that what had happened in those few weeks happens all the time in the business world. Getting used to the same competition. Tank commanders had gotten so used to one way of war that they lost it all when the variables of war changed. The same thing happens to business.
How much businesses do we see now that are being destroyed because they had no real competition. Look at the taxi companies out there. They had got so used to their low level competition that once Uber came on the field, they had no idea what to do. We can see now just how much Uber has upset the taxi industry. Had the owners of these taxi companies stopped thinking that this is the only way business can be done, they could have made Uber before others did.