This is a question I get asked very often (goes with my blog name). The topic of strategy is vast, it is filled with stratagems and other thinking that can be confused as cookie-cutter solutions. Strategy is heavily dependent on context, so, there isn’t one single way to change the game. But, for me, there is a psychological tactic you can use to change the perception of how the game is played.
Let me illustrate it with a couple of examples. First, the game of chicken.
In the game of chicken, two drivers position their respective car at opposite ends of a street. Each driver puts the pedal to metal while driving head on, and whoever yields is the loser. But, if no one yields, then the result may be death for both drivers.
How do you change the game here?
Easy. You show commitment by removing the steering wheel of your car and let the other driver see you do it. The effect, is the other driver should seriously consider playing chicken with you since you’ve just showed him that you are willing to die.
Too aggressive for you? Here’s an example from history…
The Death Ground Strategy
History says that Hernan Cortes used the death ground strategy to conquer the Aztec empire. To get his troops to unite and fight for their life against the Aztecs, he ordered his ship pilots to bore holes in the ships hulls so they would sink and thus eliminate the possibility of returning to Cuba .
His message was clear: only by conquering the Aztecs, becoming lords of Mexico, could they get back to Cuba alive.
And that is what they did.
Strategy is hard, it depends heavily on context, and should not be confused with cookie-cutter solutions. If you cannot afford to lose, you won’t. The strategy of commitment, is very powerful. It is the equivalent of the “death ground” strategy, where you cut yourself off from your lifeline and fight for your life.