Proactive Asymmetric Strategy

Why Achieve Strategic Surprise?

Strategic surprise is a powerful force multiplier. Throughout history, opponents who achieved strategic surprise gained superior competitive results over their rivals, often exceeding all expectations.

Today more than ever, the ability to achieve strategic surprise may be a survival requirement. Companies and nations pay a heavy price for their inability to create surprising strategies that would allow them to break away from competition. They cut prices, lay off workers, make high-risk investments in unstable growth markets, only to discover that all the other players do exactly the same. Achieving strategic surprise is a way out of competitive convergence.

The ability to create strategic surprise creates its own defense. The more you become a driver of disruptive change in your environment, the less can rivals inflict strategic surprise on you.

Moving from traditional to asymmetrical strategic thinking will let you achieve strategic surprise by disrupting your rivals' mental model (or thought paradigm, or, somewhat simplified, their "business model"). This involves reframing your own mental model and is effective even in the face of superior and alert opponents. Actually, there is little room for terms such as "superior" opponent in the world of  Proactive Asymmetric Strategy.

What is Proactive Asymmetric Strategy (PAS)?

Proactive Asymmetric Strategy (PAS) allows you to disrupt your rivals by turning their strength and advantages against them. Using rivals' capabilities to your own ends, you turn antagonistic competitive forces into a vast strategic resource. Competitors' actions are not viewed as something to be neutralized or avoided but as a central tool for achieving goals and fulfilling missions. Proactive Asymmetric Strategy utilizes many factors that are labeled "uncertainty" by other schools of strategic thought.

The method of Proactive Asymmetric Strategy (PAS) is not limited to any specific field of competition.

How does PAS Achieve Strategic Surprise?

Proactive Asymmetric Strategy (PAS) turns your rival's advantage against him. Research and experience teach us that this is the last thing any opponent would expect to happen. For your opponent, understanding such disruption, let alone coping with it, means giving up his most fundamental beliefs and "core competencies". Many organizations would rather perish than do so.

The surprise effect is not based on hiding any facts from your rivals but on using their business model against them. PAS does not rely on cover or deception to achieve surprise. Aside from the legal risks involved in the use of deception in business -- publicly traded companies in particular can cross the line into illegal activities in no time -- and the political risks in the governmental arena, there is a question of feasibility. Preparing strategic surprise by deception and cover involves hiding what you are doing. But the information age in which we live does not always afford such luxury. It is one of the greatest advantages of Proactive Asymmetric Strategy that it hardly needs any cover and definitely no deception to achieve strategic surprise. The better the rival performs under his mental model, the more intense the strategic surprise will be. Any early warning mechanism your rival might have is based on his mental model, and triggers action according to it. If you use Proactive Asymmetric Strategy, your rival's efforts to prevent strategic surprise will actually make it easier for you to achieve it!


"Use the orthodox to govern the state; use the unorthodox to wage war." Tao Te Ching