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The Wooden Horse of Troy - The Lessons

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Rev Albert Ocran
Rev Albert Ocran

This is the concluding part of the presentation by Rev. Albert Ocran at the Global Convocation of the Springboard 2018 Road Show on the theme: “Leveraging Strategy and Technology.”


Strategy varies from person to person and from situation to situation. It is scary that what works in a particular situation could fail abysmally if repeated in a similar situation with almost the same variables.

It was clear that the Greeks had achieved success several times using first dialogue; and if persuasion failed, all out war. This time around, the same approach totally failed, hence the need for change. Isn't it amazing that what force could not achieve in 10 years was accomplished with a simple strategy of concealment and a relevant technology designed and constructed in three days?

If you've been unemployed or searching for business financing for years and are frustrated, stop blaming others and re-examine your approach. You may be working hard but if there is something wrong with your strategy, your effort will not necessarily yield the desired result.

In some cases, the same situation may require a radical variation of approach. One of the most incredible examples of the need for constant review of strategy can be found in two battles David fought in the scriptures against the same opponents and at the same location.

In 2 Samuel 5, the Philistines deployed themselves at war against David in the Valley of Rephaim. After prayerful consultation, David went out and broke through his enemies like water. However, soon after that, the enemy returned and arrayed themselves in the same valley.

Conventional thinking says if it ain't broke, don't fix it. However, strategic thinking says ask a few more questions. Has the environment changed? Has the competition learnt a lesson? Are they more informed and prepared than the last time? Am I likely to falter if I repeat the same approach? What should I do differently? David did what he often did best - consult God who was his strategy partner.

Remember that strategy is contextual and dynamic. If your approach is not working, change it.

Technology is contextual
Outthink, outpace and outsmart the competition.

It is important to preempt the way your competitors think and are likely to behave and answer their questions in advance. The Greeks could have built a wooden cow or a wooden elephant and the Trojans might not have touched it.

But they understood the culture of the people and tailored their technology to meet it. The horse was the emblem of the Trojans so they were more likely to see a horse as a trophy than any other animal.

They also knew that the lives of the Trojans, like the Greeks, were deeply intertwined with their gods. Inscribing a dedication to Athena increased the likelihood of reverence for the “gift”.

Additionally, per the strategy, the horse had to be light in order to be moved into the city. It was, therefore, appropriate to use wood and not metal or concrete.

It also had to be hollow to be able to carry the soldiers. All these variables required critical thinking, behavioural analysis, patience, timing and flawless execution. That is why anytime you hear the word technology, you will hear the word information close by. Technology is not simply about machines. It is about using information and relevant systems to create the advantage you seek in life.

Jack Welch
An interesting story is told about a meeting between Jack Welch, formerly of General Electric and the CEO of a competing brand, who had travelled across the Atlantic to see him. Upon entering the office, the guest saw a nicely bound document on Welch’s table with his own company name and the words “Alternative Strategic Plan” clearly marked on it. He knew that he had not authored or commissioned any such document. He kept fidgeting and stealing glances at the unfamiliar plan until he eventually asked Welch what it was and if he could take a look.

The astute Welch handed it over, smiled and admitted that he had assembled a team of brilliant young strategists who had used simulation and scenario modelling to craft an imaginary strategic plan, modelling what the competitor was likely to do over the next few years. After scanning through the document, the guest smiled and admitted that Welch’s version was even better prepared than the strategy document they themselves had. Such is the importance of being informed and technologically savvy as you strategise to seize your opportunities.

Penalties with technology
In the 2009 English League Cup Final which Manchester United won on penalties, goalkeeper Ben Forster caused a real stir when he admitted that he had watched iPod footage of each of Tottenham's penalty takers seconds before the start of the shoot-out. To many of the viewers at the stadium and across the world, he had predicted most of the kicks correctly. They, therefore, hailed his heroics.

Goalkeeper Forster was more keen to lavish the praise on his goalkeeping coach Eric Steele who he said had prepared him adequately. "Just before the shoot-out, I was given an iPod that had Tottenham's players taking penalty kicks, including one from O'Hara," said Foster.

"I was told to stand up and be strong and it will probably go that way. This is a new innovation." While it upset a number of Hotspurs fans, many were amazed at the extent to which technology and scientific analysis had been used for such a seemingly mundane task as sports or penalties.

The truth is you have no business being ignorant or uninformed about your competitors. In today’s fast-paced business world, corporate intelligence is a very important part of the strategic approach of any serious organisation. A well-written business or strategic plan often has copious details on the key competitors in the business and their behaviour in the past, present and even potential future. Technology is a major enabler in this exercise.

Wealth creation is contextual
The third pillar of our theme is wealth creation. The word leveraging means gaining an advantage by tapping into the strength inherent in something. When we say we are leveraging strategy and technology, it is evident that it must give us some kind of advantage. Considering our context as Ghanaians and predominantly African viewers on our live stream, it was relevant to settle on wealth creation as the most common advantage we all seek.

In the case of King Menelaus of Sparta, the 10 years of fighting, the strategy and the deployment of technology was not to seize any gold. It was to recapture his wife who had run away with another man.

Talking about slaving away for years for a woman, is it worth remembering that Jacob who worked for 14 years for his wife Rachel at a point also had to deploy strategy and technology to create wealth? His Trojan Horse was simple. His father-in-law, uncle and boss Laban had set impossible rules for him to make wealth and changed his salary 10 times. In Genesis 30, Jacob resorted to a combination of genetic technology, animal husbandry and reproductive science to generate the rare kind of sheep and goats he had been told he could have as his salary.

One thing stands out today. Strategy, technology and wealth creation or advantage are all contextual and dependent on the individual or institution, as well as the environment.

Leveraging strategy and technology can give you an advantage in ministry, business, marriage, education, governance and any other field you seek to excel in.