Place, Pace & Perspective: Three Key Strategic Forces

Let’s see what kind of mental mischief we can come up thinking through the strategic importance of place, pace and perspective. Sort of a marking an invisible white board with some ideas.

A Game of Chess

Years ago when I began playing chess (just regular pieces sitting on a flat chess board), I realized how critical both my various pieces places or positions on the board were to my goal of check-mating my opponent.

At any one time the positions of my chess pieces and my opponent’s pieces defined a context of future choices. The pieces were both occupying a place and just by that fact were projecting potential offensive reach and defensive capabilities. My opponent and I had to be aware of the point-in-time context and its associated possible paths through the future.

As we played together more frequently, our pace of play increased. Much like two people who have been married or otherwise living together for many years, we knew each other’s moves. At least up to a point where we could set up a “new” game with several pieces in a place that represented a game that had experienced several moves. Sometimes, though, a quickening pace would steamroller over opportunities we each had to try new initial moves … to innovate, if you will.

Many chess games brought me the lesson that perspective was also important. Perspective is like an uber factor that brings place and pace together in a way where the two forces become more than the sum of their individual contribution.

An Aerial Perspective

A real-world example hit me after the first Gulf War when a reporter asked General Schwartzkoff if he wasn’t concerned about enemy advance people understanding the number, nature and movement of his forces. The General said he would be only if the enemy was in a plane or helicopter high enough off the ground to both see all the Allied Forces, their number, their make-up, their dispersion and the speed of their movement.

In a related example, consider either college football or professional football games. Teams always have coaching staffs high above the field to monitor both the opponent’s placement, moves and speed … and their own teams. And, of course, what happens in the context of interaction.

Let’s bring this mental mischief to your company: how is your insurance company using place (market penetration, market positioning), pace (speed of business acquisition, speed of agency onboarding, speed of moving business from agencies through underwriting, speed of policy delivery or paying claims), and perspective (understanding and reacting to your company’s capabilities, your competitor’s capabilities, and managing the interaction between the two) to strengthen your company’s competitive position?

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /