strategy Jun 01, 2022
What could your business learn from French History?

The seventeen-century marked a turning point in French military and naval strategy. In my books and during my talks, I often glorify Britain’s success over the French in the Battles of Crecy (1346) and Agincourt (1415). During the Italian wars (1494-1559), the French paid Swiss mercenaries to fight for them. During the Wars of Religion (1562-1598), French Protestants, lacking the crown’s armies and royal taxation, formed small, more agile units, much like Ukrainian forces against the Russian military today. 

Massive squares of 2,000 men were traded for single rotating lines only ten soldiers deep. Once a French soldier’s weapon was fired, that soldier fell to the back of the line to reload and be ready to fire once he advanced to the front again. 

By the mid sixteen hundreds, the discipline required by these smaller units gave birth to drilled and constantly trained standing armies that could be used to defend against aggressors and control civil riots across France. This constant practice resulted in the superior control of troops, which allowed reliable strategies to be conceived, tested, and executed. This is also true in business - disciplined culture is a precursor to good strategy. By the mid-seventeenth century, the French were no longer afraid to fight the British.

By 1781, at the strategically decisive Battle of Chesapeake, which sealed America’s independence from Britain, a French fleet led by Rear Admiral François Joseph Paul prevented the British Navy from reinforcing or evacuating their besieged forces at Yorktown, Virginia.

The French controlled the sea lanes against the British and provided the American army with the siege artillery and French reinforcements needed to secure Independence and establish the first Thirteen Colonies of the United States of America.

Q. Do you have the right people in the right roles? 
Q. Are they trained and disciplined? 
Q. Are you leaving the future to chance, or do you have a strategy? 
Q. How does your business scorecard look? 

Scorecard from Chesapeake 
French > 2 damaged ships
British > 5 damaged and one scuttled ship

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