Posted by: rolfsky | March 12, 2009

want to win? pick a fight.


Every battle worth fighting needs a good enemy. Who is your enemy?

MySpace has Facebook.
Chevy has Ford.
Luke Skywalker has Darth Vader.

If you’ve failed to define the enemy, whether it’s “Competitor X”, or “boring mediocrity”, you’re robbing yourself and your employees of vital motivational energy.

Enemies clarify goals and focus energies. Now, the extra hour in the office polishing your PowerPoint deck isn’t about pride, it’s about sticking it to the man.

We tend to forget that our companies are made of individuals, each needing some type of motivation. The notion of “us vs. them” is core to how we have evolved as humans, only slightly less important than “I’m hungry” and “I’m tired.”

Tribes instinctually need something to fight for, and something to fight against. It’s what defines the tribe and guides their decisions, and it has to be something more than “better next quarter” or “15% YoY growth”. Without a cohesive, visceral message about the battle you need won, what’s to keep them on the battlefield?

For bonus points: enemies don’t have to be people or competitors, they can be “ideals” or notions. Apple’s enemies are: mediocrity, confusion, and apparently, “buttons


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