Abstract

Clausewitz on Strategy Inspiration and Insight from a Master Strategist
Edited by Tiha von Ghyczy, Bolko von Oetinger, and Christopher Bassford

What can a nineteenth-century Prussian general teach a twenty-first century executive or entrepreneur about business strategy? A great deal, in fact, given the similarity in the strategic challenges they face: alliances are made, broken, and reconstituted at dizzying speed; when unprecedented events occur, experience does not indicate a course of action; and rules, principles, and how-to prescriptions no longer apply. These, says Carl von Clausewitz, are the times in which the true strategist thrives. Clausewitz's ideas are timeless because they address universal conditions: uncertainty, rule-breaking, strategic endgames, and competition. His theories are not based on current economic conditions; rather they lead to strategy based on powers of observation, a broad exploration of the opportunity, a willingness to be flexible, and an instinctive sense of judgment.

Carl Von Clausewitz

Carl von Clausewitz as a man is as worthy of consideration as the work itself. His values and intrinsic beliefs, more than his specific ideas, have given his work an inner coherence and an enduring power of persuasion. It is his refusal, above all else, to let his mind be restricted to a narrow point of view that strikes the modern professional as exemplary.

Clausewitz was a complicated man of both action and thought, and he left a complicated legacy. The meaning and practical impact of his theories are subjects of hot debate, and the lessons taken from his works vary widely, depending on the times, the circumstances, and the interpreter.

To assess the value of his ideas, therefore, it is important to understand Clausewitz as a living personality. He was much more than a military academic. He was a practical soldier of wide experience, a historian and a historical philosopher, and a political theorist. Personally sensitive, shy, and bookish, he could also be passionate in his politics, in his longing for military glory, and in his love affair with his wife-with whom he built an intellectual partnership that draws modern attention for reasons having little to do with his military reputation.

. . .from the Boston Consulting Group https://www.bcg.com/clausewitz/