Competitive strategies in business and wars have always shown resemblance; if closely looked most of the business warfares take its inspiration from wars.
Here in this post i will like to bring one such resemblance between the attacks made by great war tactician HANNIBAL BARCA against the ROMANS in the PUNIC WAR and the attack made by the Japanese auto makers like TOYATA ,NISSAN AND HONDA against the big three ie GM,CHRYSLER AND FORD.
For those who do not know regarding punic war i will like to explain, punic war is a set of three wars fought between the romans and the north african empire of carthage which finally ended up in the culmination of carthage.Out of the three wars our concern here is with the first part of the second war where the carthagian general hannibal barca took a military of around 50,000 soldiers,crossed the alps and attacked the romans in their own land. A similar kind of strategy was adopted by the Japanese automakers in the early 70's when they attacked the american auto industry in their own market.
in 218 bc Hannibal left new carthage(spain) and left for rome,the basic strategy of Hannibal was very clear, there were two major ideas involved-
• Romans always considered themselves as a very superior force,the smug romans could never prognosticate that the army of carthage whom they considered as an inferior stock can ever dare to attack the romans,this sudden attack will completely confuse them and since the Romans are unprepared they will find it tough to respond.
• The second part of the strategy was to fight the war in the roman soil, this can create chaos in Rome and carthage can leverage it.
This carthagian strategy really paid off.They defeated the Romans continuously in three consecutive battles and got a major part of the roman empire (though it should be noted over here is that finally it was not rome but carthage that tasted defeat ,thanks to the retaliatory moves by the romans who used the strategy of hannibal against him only, details on this on some other blog)
These very same tactics were used by the Japanese auto companies against their american counterparts. Japans companies entered in the American market in the early 1970's with their small cars which were better in quality but lesser in price than the cars produced by the American auto majors. American automakers were not prepared for this attack, they perceived these japanese makers as manufactured of inferior quality and instead of fighting them they relegated the segment of small car market to them and started focusing on big car segment, they were sure that Japanese companies were not capable enough to fight them on this segment, but unfortunately they were wrong ,after holding their ground in the small car segment the Japanese attacked the us auto makers in the segment of big cars also and on account of their idea like TQM IE TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT they defeated the us in this segment also ,Finally the American automakers tried to take shelter in the segment of light truck manufacturing but here also the Japanese did not spare them ,as per the present data gm is bankrupt, Chrysler has been taken over and ford is on the verge of bankruptcy. Well, large part of Japanese victory can be attributed to various reasons such as better product, cheap labor in contrast to their American counterparts, better culture in their companies but a very important part that worked in their favor was there strategy of attacking the American on their own profit sanctuaries ,it repeatedly attacked the Americans on all those domains which have been their major source of making profit and thus created a great chaos in there structure, one important point to be noted over here is that while American auto makers were under great pressure of loosing there revenue from their core market the Japanese makers were not only winning ground in the usa but they were making good deal of money from there japanese business also, in fact there safe base at Japan give them the opportunity to take risk against their American counter part by attacking on their territories. This was very much in line with the Hannibal’s strategy of restricting the warfare in the roman land and keeping a safe base at carthage.
Thus we can see that there has been a great similarity between the attack by Hannibal barca and the Japanese automakers. (Baring one difference, though the Japanese have almost won the battle , Hannibal finally lost it to the Romans who learned slowly from Hannibal and used the same strategy against him.)
REFERENCE:- HARDBALL: GEORGE STALK AND ROB LACHENAUER