How to Fight Business Foes Like Gen. McChrystal Fought Terrorists

Retired U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal pauses while speaking during a January discussion at the Brookings Institution in Washington. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

This is America. Land of opportunity. The global hub of capitalism. A place where a mentor once told your correspondent: “Figure out what you’re good at. Then use that to make some money.”

Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, fired by President Barack Obama after an embarrassing incident involving a Rolling Stone reporter, is good at something: Killing Islamic extremist terrorists. And he wants to help you use what he’s good at to make money.

No, really. Your correspondent is not making this up. It’s all described in a lengthy email that landed in the inbox this morning with this subject subject line: “Applying GEN McChrystal’s Combat Tested Military Principles To Make Business Better at Beating the Competition and Innovation.” Just click “more” for a few McChrystal gems on, as the email put its “What Business Leaders Can Achieve from the ‘Terrorist Targeting Cycle’ for Their Companies.”

The how-to guide came in an email from Chad Storlie, who is described in the note as “an adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. He’s also a former special operations officer and a “a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics.” What’s more, he has written two books, titled “Combat Leader to Corporate Leader” and “Battlefield to Business Success.”

The exact McChrystal link to Storlie is unclear in the email, but it all seemed geared toward drumming up interest in Storlie’s website, which your correspondent won’t link to because Intercepts doesn’t do commercials. (C’mon, you all have Google. You can find it.)

Here’s what Storlie is pitching. He says “one of … McChrystal’s greatest contributions to the War Against Terrorism (his capitalization, not Intercept’s) was his perfection of the fast cycling “Find, Fix, Finish, Exploit, Analyze, Disseminate” targeting methodology to discover, to locate and to defeat terrorist targets.”

Initially, this ‘terrorist targeting cycle” was too slow. McChrystal worked to speed it up.

“Even with initial successes, McChrystal was unsatisfied — he wanted a faster targeting process,” Storlie writes. “He wanted the targeting cycle to go faster so he could rapidly position forces and gather resources to decisively attack a target.”

And what does all of this mean for profit-focused titans of the business community? Cash, if you just follow McChrystal’s model, according to Storlie.

“Business and organizational leaders can adopt the ‘spirit and intent’ of McChrystal’s use of the ‘Terrorist Targeting Cycle’ that will help them understand markets faster, disseminate critical and useful market intelligence to their entire organization to meet customer needs faster, and help the organization be more nimble in response to market opportunity,” the teacher-author-business wiz-special ops vet writes.

Here’s all a business person has to do to fight rival companies like McChrystal fought terrorists in Afghanistan, as Storlie writes:

“(1) How Well and How Often Do Your Gather, Analyze, Disseminate, and Act On Competitive Intelligence?
(2) Are You Very Precisely Defining and Fixing (Tracking) Your Target Market?
(3) Do You Have a Plan / Process / Solution to Quickly Exploit Your Competitor’s Weaknesses to Achieve Your Goals?
(4) How Long and How Frequently Do You Analyze Your Performance vs. the Competition?
(5) How Well Do You Communicate New Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP’s) That Work Well Against the Competition to Your Team.”

He goes into more detail on each point, providing business people a blueprint on how to turn each military approach into profits. Here’s a taste:

McChrystal’s “Terrorist Targeting Cycle” Business Lesson #3 – Do You Have a Plan / Process / Solution to Quickly Exploit Your Competitor’s Weaknesses to Achieve Your Goals?

Military Unit Use: McChrystal had at his immediate disposal drones, helicopters, jet aircraft, gunships, and skilled Special Operations Forces (SOF) so that he could immediately attack enemy terrorist forces as they appeared.
Business Team Use: Few business teams have immediate plans how to quickly exploit the weakness of a competitor. Businesses should create Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) how to quickly and to decisively exploit a competitor’s weaknesses. Your competitor out of product? A key supplier low on inventory? Your competitor makes a price cut? Businesses need to have well-rehearsed and coordinated plans to decisively take advantage of a fluid situation to their advantage.

Reading Storlie’s email, however, one can’t help but ask this question: Given the trillions of U.S. dollars spent — and the thousands of lives lost and life-long injuries sustained — fighting al-Qaida terrorists and their Taliban partners since 2001, is the terrorist-fighting model a good one for American businesses? After all, much of those war funds were borrowed. And it remains unclear just what kind of long-term strategic return on the “global war on terrorism” investment America will reap.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett