Noah Mangwarara

Positively Impacting Humanity


Nature remains a great source of inspiration in a number of fields, with many inventions having been inspired from there. Organisations and individuals alike are in constant search for the success formula to thrive in a volatile environment. The spider is one small arthropod that has mastered how to succeed through a specialized game plan that revolves around the web that it constructs. By any standard, the spider’s web appears a simplified form but the predatory antics of the spider on the web remains forever amazing. Massive lessons on strategy can be drawn from the order of the spider, which are worth taking into consideration. 

With great strategists and authors having come up with various models and theories, it is worth drawing parallels between the great thoughts and the spider’s mastery on her game.

“Strategy is about setting yourself apart from the competition. It’s not a matter of being better at what you do – it’s a matter of being different at what you do.”— (Michael Porter) 

The spider is her own self, never trying to act in the mode of other predators. With other hunters going about scouting for food, the spider identifies a place where she erects her web and patiently waits for potential prey. Strategy is never about copying what everyone else is doing. Instead, it boils down to Identification of one’s niche and perfecting the trade in offering a service that is second to none. With seven or so billion people in the world, there aren’t two individuals who are the same. On the same token, organisations ought to craft their own niche which makes them different from any other. 

“You build your own strategy. You don’t define it by what another competitor is doing.” ― (Ginni Rometty) 

Being in the same industry or space doesn’t mean the solution provision must be the same. A competitor driven strategy limits the one waiting for the market leader to make a move. There is no way you can ever be on top of your game if all that you are doing is to determine your every move on the basis of what the competitor is doing. If the competitor doesn’t move, then it means you have no strategy. The spider puts up her web, never intimidated by the ants going about their business. Too often, companies follow the strategies of their competitors instead of developing their own. It can lead to disastrous results, as competitors can quickly overtake you with a better strategy. The best winning strategy ever is to define what you want your company to accomplish and then working tirelessly to achieve it.

“Strategy requires thought, tactics require observation.” ― (Max Euwe) 

The spider identifies the rightful location to put up her web, normally where there is likelihood of potential prey passing. Hers is never a haphazard approach, it remains a well calculated move which is followed by the quick construction of the web. Good strategies do not come in as an event. Instead, it is a well thought out process which takes time to develop after sound analysis and understanding of the environment. Tactics are immediate; a response to what is happening in the present. Tactics can be likened to the lighting speed with which the spider responds after prey gets entangled on the web. In similar fashion, companies should have a well crafted game plan within which specific strategies and tactics are meted out. 

“The basic strategy is to stick to my core business and my area of expertise.” ― (Henry Sy) 

Even if it appears as if nothing is coming towards the web, the spider doesn’t give up easily on her game plan. Winning in any field boils down to defining the core business arising from the core competencies and continuously refining such until mastery is reached. Some companies diversify too much, leading to lack of depth in delivery of solutions to customers.  It’s equally critical to stay true to your niche market. Choose to focus on a select few areas and gain mastery rather than becoming a jack of all trades who becomes a master of none. Watching the spider on her web dashing to the kill when prey lands on the web is a marvel on how mastery breeds great results. 

“Creative without strategy is called ‘art.’ Creative with strategy is called ‘advertising.” — (Jef I. Richards) 

The spider’s web is a great piece of art but that art is not for display and it ends there. The web is a killing system erected by one of nature’s most successful predators come strategist. A Strategy should not be developed just for the sake of it or to come up with a flowery document which is well written. Great strategies convert into visible results. We always say that the thicker the strategy document, the more useless it is. This issue is not about size, it boils down to conversion of the strategy effort into results.

“In real life, strategy is very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement it like hell.” — (Jack Welch) 

The spider seems to know the exact end result, she erects a web, strategically positions herself and dashes at lightning speed when prey enters her space. Great strategies have a clear vision, detailed plans, and relentless execution, with continuous evaluation to ensure everything is proceeding according to plan. With a clear vision of where you want to go, it’s easier to develop detailed plans to get there. With passionate execution, the plans will materialize. Strategy goes beyond mere talk and wish lists; it’s about getting your hands dirty and making things happen.

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” — (Sir Winston Churchill) 

Our great web strategist takes a step back after putting up the web and watches on whether her work is producing results. It is prudent and it makes a lot of business sense to occasionally step backwards and evaluate the results. Check for alignment of the strategies with the overall plan and results. Are the results coming forth as anticipated? If not, ask yourself why.  Determine the priorities from time to time. Once you know what’s important, figure out how best to achieve it. Strategic planning goes beyond just making plans; it’s also about testing and adapting the plans as necessary.   

“Failure is nothing more than a chance to revise your strategy.” – (Anonymous) 

When the spider fails to catch prey or the web is destroyed, she quickly gets back to business, identifying another place and putting up another system. Setbacks are only setups for great comebacks. When failure knocks, it is only an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and come up with a better system of value addition. Failure remains an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, figure out what did not work, and craft better plans for the future.

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