Doctrine

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Mark B. Fuller – in an article entitled “Business as War” writes:

To change, companies need a framework that guides people at all levels as they convert informed choice into timely action. In military terms, they need corporate doctrine.

Doctrine is fundamental to war. As defined in Warfighting, the Marine Corps' handbook on strategy and operations, doctrine is "the fundamental beliefs of the Marine Corps on the subject of war, from its nature and theory to its preparation and conduct. Doctrine establishes a particular way of thinking about war and a way of fighting, a philosophy for leading Marines into combat, a mandate for professionalism, and a common language. In short, it establishes the way we practice our profession."

In business, doctrine is still waiting to be created. All executives accept the need for formal strategies to define the means by which companies compete. Most executives have embraced mission, vision, and values to communicate the ends for which companies compete. Still, something is missing: the doctrine that provides the integration between ends and means - how companies compete.

Doctrine is not minutely prescriptive. In the case of the military, it does not provide detailed instructions on how to fight specific campaigns. Rather, it is a mixture of philosophy ("maneuver warfare," says Warfighting, "is a way of thinking in and about war that should shape our every action") and practice (subordinates "should understand the intent of the commander two levels up") and the connections between the two.

In business, good doctrine meets three needs. First, it establishes a common purpose - the company's definition of victory. Second, it establishes a common language - a shared way of expressing the corporate strategy. Third, it establishes common decision rules - a shared framework for action. The sum of these elements answers the questions that any company must answer if it expects to win: How do we compete? Where do we compete? How do we conduct ourselves? How do we know whether we're winning or losing?

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