Context Thinking: Two-Front Wars

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 9.41.26 AMI love history. It’s valuable because you can learn from the successes, failures, and experiences of so many other individuals, events, and cultures in the past. Fads come and go, but human behavior and human nature are consistent. I enjoy looking for lessons in history that serve as metaphors for current situations or challenges I am wrestling with and “mine for clues.”

In no way is the comparison mean to imply that managing two divisions, groups, or campuses is anything like WW2. It simply serves as a useful teacher on a smaller scale and a fun exercise in “transfer.” Here are some lessons

  • Two front wars fail more often than they succeed; your forces are split – reducing your odds of success.
  • Pick the right generals and delegate (you can’t be in two places at the same time) (What can you learn from the success of FDR, IKE, & MacArthur?)
  • Build strong alliances (FDR had Churchill who carried a lot of the weight on one front)
  • Rely on technology to assist with communication and fighting the battles
  • All hands on deck if you want to win the war. (Mobilize EVERYONE on the home front to move the effort forward faster)
  • Recognize that the obstacles and corresponding strategies may be completely different – unique and specific to each geographical location. (The Pacific Theater required a massive navy, island hopping, and fighting kamikazes, the European Theater required airplanes and ground forces, tanks, etc.)
  • Recognize the similarities (both relied on massive water to land invasions)

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