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My wife is from New Orleans, so when we recently got a chance to see the original, we had to stop.

We were driving through France with our kids, on a four-day tour from my family reunion in Germany to our AirBNB in Barcelona, when we realized we’d pass through the “original New Orleans”: Orleans. This is the first town that Joan of Arc helped free from an English siege during the Hundred Years’ War, when England was taking over large swaths of France.

Orleans is filled with statues of Joan of Arc in armor, wielding a sword. But as I learned more about her true story I was dumbfounded … then inspired. Her true path to power, the reason she was able to change the course of history, offers an indelible example of fundamental strategic principle, one that can help you and your organization change the future as well.

You see, Joan of Arc never wielded a sword. She felt her banner was “forty times” more effective.

A banner beats a sword.

She was born a peasant, never learned to read, but claims she had visions from saints who told her she was destined to free France from England. At the age of 16 she won a private conference with Charles VII and explained that God had sent her, that without her presence France would lose the war.

By this time France had endured humiliating defeats at the hands of the English. Morale was low. Hope was fading. And in their desperation, the royal leadership gave this illiterate teenage girl a test. They sent her to Orleans to see if she could help lift the English siege.

She had no formal power. Indeed military leadership of Orleans excluded her from their military strategy meetings. But over time, her message, that God wanted France to win, that she represented God’s will, won over.

She essentially turned the Anglo-French conflict into a religious war.

On the front lines she wielded not a sword but the French banner. She inspired French soldiers and citizens. She gave them meaning, hope, something bigger worth fighting for.

The Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz would say she gave the French “moral force.” Sun Tzu understood this principle, arguing you should march soldiers deep inside enemy territory to remove the option of defeat, thereby unifying them. The 36 Stratagems, the ancient Chinese book on which my first two titles are based, talks of seeking a situation where others benefit by you winning.

You see, a common, unifying, bigger mission unifies people to achieve the impossible.

Moral Force

Today’s most successful businesses are winning through “moral force.” If you have heard my speeches or attended our Outthinker workshops, you know how Alibaba, Amazon, Ikea, and MasterCard all activate moral force. Your vision, core purpose, mission, or “big hairy audacious goal” are all tools to help you do this.

Are you effectively activating moral force in your organization? Are you fighting for something bigger than profits? If not, here are three steps you can take to energize your organization toward a higher goal:

Remove the negative

Look through your activities and seek to remove any that produce a negative outcome for society. Sustainability efforts that seek “zero net carbon” or “zero net waste,” for example, seek to do this. Ikea’s People & Planet program, for example, looks to ensure zero waste in its supply chain, by removing any process from which waste is not reused or recycled. What negative activities can you remove?

Add more positive

Find ways to adjust your business model and practices to produce positive outcomes. Start by considering the Toms Shoes model of giving away a pair of shoes for each one they sell, for example, but go beyond this. Ikea is switching their entire lighting range to energy-efficient LEDs, and sourcing all of the cotton they use in their products from more sustainable sources. Walmart has been focused for decades on reducing costs for customers by removing packaging materials from their suppliers, which is good for the environment. Look for opportunities to profitably do good in the world. What positive outcomes can you add?

Communicate the good

Often your organization produces positive outcomes that your employees, customers, investors, and partners are unaware of. MasterCard, for example, talks about being a “force for good,” arguing that as they pursue a “world beyond cash,” they create greater transparency and accountability in the economy. How can you more effectively communicate the good you do?

“8Ps” of StrategyOpportunity
for Disruption
Recommended Leverage Points
Position- The farmers, individual and corporate, that you are targeting.

- The need of the agricultural industry that you seek to fill.
3- What technologies do you control that can help you tap into market
segments that you previously thought unreachable?

- What are the potential business alliances you could think about with key players in the segment to serve your customers with integrated solutions? (Serving customers with more integrated solutions example: serving farmers with fertilizers, crop protection and other).
Product- The products you offer, and the characteristics that affect their value to customers.

- The technology you develop for producing those products.
8- What moves are your organization taking to implement Big Data and analytics to your operations? What IoT and blockchain applications can you use?

- What tools and technology could you utilize or develop to improve food quality, traceability, and

- How can you develop a more sustainable production model to accommodate constraints on arable

- What is the future business model needed to serve new differentiated products to your customers?
Promotion- How you connect with farmers and consumers across a variety of locations and industries.
- How to make consumers, producers, and other stakeholders aware of your products and services.
8- How are you connecting your product with individual and corporate farms who could utilize it?
- How could you anticipate market and customer needs to make customers interested in accessing your differentiated products?
PriceHow consumers and other members of the agricultural supply chain pay for access to agricultural products.7- What elements of value comprise your pricing? How do each of those elements satisfy the varying needs of your customers?
Placement- How food products reach consumers. How the technologies, data, and services reach stakeholders in the supply chain.9- What new paths might exist for helping consumers access the food they desire?
- How are you adapting your operations and supply chain to accommodate consumers’ desire for proximity to the food they eat?
- How could you anticipate customer expectation to make products more
accessible to customers/agile supply chain?
- Have you considered urbanization as a part of your growth strategy?
- How your food satisfies the needs and desires of your customer.
- How the services you provide to agribusiness fulfill their needs.
9- Where does your food rate on a taste, appearance, and freshness
- Could the services you provide to companies and farms in the agriculture industry be expanded to meet more needs?
- What senses does your food affect besides hunger? How does your
customer extract value from your food in addition to consumption?
Processes- Guiding your food production operations in a manner cognizant of social pressure.8- How can you manage the supply chain differently to improve traceability and reduce waste?
- How can you innovate systems in production, processing, storing, shipping, retailing, etc.?
- What are new capabilities to increase sustainability (impact on the environment, or ESG) components?
People- The choices you make regarding hiring, organizing, and incentivizing your people and your culture.- How are you leveraging the agricultural experience of your staff bottom-up to achieve your vision?
- How do you anticipate new organizational capabilities needed to perform your future strategy (innovation, exponential technologies needed, agile customer relationship, innovative supply chain)?
- How do you manage your talents to assure suitable development with exposure in the agrifood main challenges/allowing a more sustainable view of the opportunities/cross-sectors?