We’ve probably all played Tic-Tac-Toe at some point in our childhood, if your parent or friend taught you, they might have let you win. As I grew up, slowly I realized, that you shouldn’t play to win right away. What you should actually do is play to a stalemate, and in trying to counter that method, your opponent will generally open up a window for you to win or the game will end in a draw. For two good players, it will always end in a draw.
In my view that is the purpose of the game, it’s not about winning or losing but more learning that you can both win by playing to a draw. It may surprise you to learn that Tic-Tac-Toe is actually one of the fundamental games used to teach strategy and tactics, partly for this very reason.
In our businesses, we are often seeking to dominate or succeed as quickly and completely as possible, and in doing so we will often overlook the smaller moves or choices that may not bring as much gain in as short a time. Tactically speaking an opponent that moves into those spaces and builds slowly and steadily has a much firmer footing overall than one that moves too quickly.
Military history is littered with examples of decisions and moves made too quickly that resulted in defeats often against smaller inferior opponents that were better prepared.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
Tic-Tac-Toe is all about learning about yourself and your enemy. Business is all about learning about yourself and knowing your market before launch and not as a result. Keep that in mind and be well-prepared before making any new moves.